Terrorist attacks on police personnel in Northern Ireland are being planned by dissident republicans ahead of the 25th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement, which will be marked by the arrival of Joe Biden and Rishi Sunak, according to the security services. The Good Friday Agreement is a peace treaty that brought an end to the Troubles, a 30-year conflict in Northern Ireland.
The PSNI has expanded police presence and introduced 12-hour shifts in Northern Ireland’s largest police operation in a decade.
Assistant Chief Constable Bobby Singleton is concerned that there may be attempts to incite major public disorder in order to launch terrorist attacks on police officers.
Singleton told a press conference in Belfast on Thursday: “There is very strong community intelligence specifically coming forward in respect of Monday’s events in Derry/Londonderry and a real concern that there may be attempts to draw police into serious public disorder and to use that then as a platform to launch terrorist attacks on police as well.”
Due to republican marches commemorating the Easter Rising of 1916 against British rule, the Easter period in Northern Ireland is often hectic for the police.
However, tensions have risen in recent months, with the MI5 upping the terror threat rating from “substantial” to “severe,” indicating a high possibility of an attack.
The New IRA was blamed for an attempted murder of a top detective in Co Tyrone in February.
Despite speculation that the increased concern about an Easter Monday attack is related to Joe Biden’s arrival and international media attention, Assistant Chief Constable Chris Todd has dismissed such speculation, stating that there is no intelligence to support the anniversary being a motivating factor for dissident republicans.
According to a former police counter-terrorism chief, it is unusual for Northern Irish police to convey clear fears about a potential terrorist attack on officers on Easter Monday.
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The Telegraph record the source as saying: “For police to say that publicly will mean they are concerned about it. By putting it in public, they will be hoping that will call it out and therefore make it less likely.
“If you get specific intelligence like that and you call it out before something happens, it sometimes has the impact that you want it to have in that they will know the police are prepared for it.
“Putting raw intelligence in the public domain not only alerts the public but also alerts the bad guys that the police are on to it.
“By putting it out in the public domain, you flush it out and you will alarm the people who are organising it who will think there has been a security breach.”
Meanwhile, Simon Byrne, the PSNI Chief Constable, told a recent Policing Board meeting: “We are now dealing with a severe terrorist threat, which means that an attack is highly likely right across Northern Ireland.
“The thing to stress is the main focus of these attacks continues to be police officers, both on and off duty, and their families. It will also include prison officers and military personnel.
“The style of attack that we are dealing with and trying to frustrate is gun attacks and bomb attacks on these people by a small number of determined dissident terrorists.
“What this means is that, working with our security partners, there is an assessment about an increase in their intent and capability to cause serious harm to us in the next six months.”
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