‘Intelligence war’ against dissident threat

Published Wednesday, 02 January 2013
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The Ulster Unionist MLA for east Belfast has told UTV he doesn't believe putting more police officers on the streets is the solution to the ongoing dissident threat.

‘Intelligence war’ against dissident threat
A police officer was targeted at his home on the Upper Newtownards Road. (© Pacemaker)

It comes after calls for additional PSNI officers to be recruited in the wake of Sunday's attempt to murder a policeman in the city.

A booby trap bomb was found under the family car of the off-duty police officer at his home in east Belfast.

The PSNI officer, his wife and two young children were about to leave their Upper Newtownards Road home for lunch when he spotted the device.

Dissident republicans are being blamed for the attack.

"Vigilance and luck will always be a major factor in disrupting these types of attacks," Michael Copeland told UTV. "The situation is, without a doubt, serious."

The UUP representative believes putting more officers on the street is not adequate in what he described as "an intelligence war".

"The public do take a degree of comfort from seeing police officers doing vehicle checkpoints and seeing police officers on the ground," he said.

The truth is, in my view, that does not represent an adequate or sensible use of a resource in an intelligence war.

Michael Copeland

Police say dissidents remain determined to kill members of the security forces, while senior security sources believe their aim is to achieve "multiple casualty attacks".

In 2012, police say they arrested 115 people suspected of dissident republican activity, and 35 were charged.

More than 60 officers have been forced to leave their homes during the past five years because of intelligence that they were being targeted for potential attack.

Others have had additional security measures like bulletproof glass installed in their homes.

The chairman of Northern Ireland's Police Federation is seeking a meeting with PSNI Chief Constable Matt Baggott to discuss officers' personal security and the recruitment of extra staff.

Terry Spence is also calling for 1,000 extra police officers to tackle the threat.

"It's the bare minimum that we need to see off this threat," he told UTV.

The Northern Ireland Office says the dissident threat level in Northern Ireland remains severe.

"The intent and capability of the dissident republicans remains significant as is their potential to carry out potentially lethal attacks," Secretary of State Theresa Villiers said in October last year.

"That should never be underestimated and we remain vigilant on these matters."

Her warning came on the eve of the murder of prison officer David Black, who was shot dead as he drove along the M1 motorway on his way to work at the high-security Maghaberry prison on 1 November.

© UTV News
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5 Comments
Johnny Mac in Belfast wrote (715 days ago):
Phil is right when he says that the paramilitaries are a plague on our society. They can call the brain dead out onto the streets for protests that only reinforce their control of certain areas. They extort money from local businesses for 'protection'. Why would anyone want to invest money in communities where the paramilitaries are in control? We will never have a chance to attain a normal society while they are in control of their territories.
realalist east belfast in east belfast wrote (715 days ago):
having read joe in belfast comment i think that it is a very on fair statement?nioami long was threaten by so called loyalists, i am sure that she would love to do her job if she was let to do it, i am sure you would go missing if you got a threat like hers?as for nics comment if you only knew how much the police have been cut back it would scare you,if you dont believe me ask the chief constable if i am telling the truth, you can write to him at knock headquarters,belfast.
Phil in Belfast wrote (716 days ago):
It's about time police and government took a hardline against these rats that plague our society. Republican and loyalist paramilitaries need to go away for good, the majority of right thinking people here don't want them and do not need them.
NIC in Belfast wrote (716 days ago):
It does not matter if you have an additional 1,000 officers on the street . It would take at least two months plus to train the officers up, then they would probably not just be dedicated to the one roll. It didnt happen before when the service had the Full Time Reserve and extra constables. They had to do the normal policing and the anti terror roles . Has the Police and goverment done away with the specialist units that they us to have. Get real Intelligence , vigilance and co operation is needed from all to make a difference and keep the county and people safe .
joe in belfast wrote (716 days ago):
wheres nioami long , shes very quiet ...shes the mp for the area but nowhere to be heard?
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