MI5: “We have seen a persistent rise in terrorist activity and ambition in Northern Ireland over the last three years”

The Irish Times has some interesting quotes from the head of MI5, Jonathan Evans.  Worth looking back in the Slugger archive for a reminder of his optimism in 2007.  And checking more recently on what the Real IRA had to say.  From the Irish Times report

Mr Evans said the assumption in 2007 was that the residual threat from terrorism in Northern Ireland was low and likely to decline further as time went on and as the new constitutional arrangements under the St Andrews Agreement were put in place.

“Sadly that has not proved to be the case,” he said, adding that while the attacks primarily targeted the police they were reckless and often put members of the public at risk.

“Perhaps we were giving insufficient weight to the pattern of history over the last hundred years which shows that whenever the main body of Irish republicanism has reached a political accommodation and rejoined constitutional politics, a hardliner rejectionist group would fragment off and continue with the so-called ‘armed struggle.” [added emphasis]

And a somewhat related post – “No one in this small, enclosed biosphere ever told them this project was never going to work in the first place…”

Adds  A separate Irish Times report has some more detail

Mr Evans told security professionals there was a “persistent rise in terrorist activity and ambition in Northern Ireland over the last three years”. He said that so far this year dissidents had mounted over 30 attacks or attempted attacks on security targets in the North compared to over 20 attacks in the whole of last year.

Mr Evans said while dissidents were not as dangerous as the Provisional IRA during the Troubles – and tended to form separate groups based on “apparently marginal distinctions” – they could still be dangerous. “In recent months there have been increasing signs of co-ordination and co-operation between the groups,” the MI5 director general told the Worshipful Company of Security Professionals in London on Thursday.

“We have seen an increasing variety of attack techniques used, ranging from shootings to under-car devices to large vehicle bombs. At the same time we have seen improved weapons capability, including the use of Semtex,” he added.