Dissident threat

Published Sunday, 03 April 2011
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Just a few days ago I was talking to the chief constable about the dissident threat.

Matt Baggott drawing up a five year 'battle' plan against these terrorists.

A five year plan I asked him? So the threat is still that bad then?

Of course I knew the answer to that. Unfortunately the murder of Constable Kerr shows exactly why police need a long-term strategy in this fight.

After the Real IRA bombed Omagh in 1998, there was a lull and it seemed possible the dissidents would not rise again from the ashes of the Troubles' most horrific day.

But they have....

It's not just the Real IRA. There's the Continuity IRA. The most dangerous is the relatively new group Óglaigh na hÉireann, a faction of the Real IRA.

So what has changed in the last few years?

Well, the informers have been rooted out and former members of the Provisional IRA with those bomb-making skills that had been lacking have now joined the ranks.

The dissidents basically began to run a tighter ship.

There was a slow build to their new campaign.

Then, in March 2009 they killed two soldiers outside Massereene army barracks in Antrim.

Forty-eight hours later Constable Stephen Carroll was gunned down as he sat in his patrol car in Craigavon.

It's been relentless since then. Bombings, shootings, you name it... Their targets more carefully thought out.

And they've now perfected the booby-trap bomb - a tactic once favoured by the IRA.

Last year Catholic constable Paedar Heffron had to have his leg amputated after one of these devices exploded underneath his car.

Just over a year later they have managed to take another officer's life - Constable Ronan Kerr.

Ronan was a young man who represented the new face of policing.

Matt Baggott summed Ronan up in just one word: "peacemaker".

Police officers I have spoken to are as fearful as they have ever been and were warned immediately after the murder to check under their cars every time they go out.

Matt Baggott has been given an extra £245m to try and put the dissidents out of business. After the shocking events of Saturday no-one should be in any doubt of the threat they pose.

© UTV News
Comments Comments
Rory in DC wrote (1,387 days ago):
I think they are being given more credit then they deserve....you are right tho in the main--- they are a micro group, a very tight one unfortunately. They can do a lot of damage and keep things in the "family" sort to speak. The smaller the group the harder it is for informants to worm in. God help these deluded souls see what they are doing
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Sharon O'Neill
Sharon O'Neill

Sharon is a graduate of the University of central Lancashire in Preston. She graduated with a 2:1 degree in journalism. She was a mature student - (though she didn't act it at times!)

After studying she freelanced for both the Irish News and Belfast Telegraph, then she was a sub-editor at the Daily Mirror despite some terrible spelling. Then she got a job as a reporter with the Irish News and two years later became their chief reporter.

She then moved to UTV and went in front of the camera, though she insists she's not a natural. She finds every day can be memorable in its own little way.

In her spare time she loves keeping fit, feeding her coffee addiction and the occasional dance.

Her phrase of choice is 'Let's check out of this cheap hotel'.

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