Published Thursday, 30 January 2014
Security in Belfast was stepped up after the Victoria Square attack in November. (© Pacemaker)
Secretary of State Theresa Villiers told the House of Commons it has been a "difficult" six months with a continuing 'severe' level of terrorist threat and the "relentless" targeting of police officers in gun and bomb attacks, as well as attacks on commercial targets.
Ms Villiers said the 'new IRA' - which was behind an attempt to mortar bomb a PSNI station in the North West - poses a "significant" danger but has been "hampered" by security forces.
Meanwhile the dissident outfit Oglaigh na hEireann was responsible for the attack on the Victoria Square shopping centre in Belfast, an explosive left in Cathedral Quarter and an under-car bomb which was found by a police officer and his daughter during the school run.
The Continuity IRA was judged to be "splintering" into competing factions while continuing to pose a localised threat to security forces across NI.
Ms Villiers said: "One particular group in Belfast have caused extensive disruption with a number of hoaxes and pipe bombs. These groups continue to engage in a range of criminal activity including fuel laundering, smuggling, drug dealing, robbery and extortion."
On the loyalist side, the Secretary of State said continued tensions between - and within - the two main paramilitary groups, the UVF and UDA, remain "a cause for concern".
However she believes the leadership of both organisations are committed to peace.
She said: "Although some individuals who are involved in serious criminality have connections to loyalist paramilitary organisations, we continue to assess that the collective leaderships of the UDA and UVF remain committed to the peace process and reform of their organisations."
Theresa Villiers added that the UK government will continue to support the PSNI with the funding it needs to tackle the ongoing terrorist threat.
She went on: "This has been a difficult six months from a security perspective, coming as it did after a sustained period of public disorder relating to flags and parades.
"However, as a result of the concerted and sustained efforts of the security forces, we have also seen some significant arrests, seizures, convictions and disruptions.
"We continue to contain the threat from terrorism and remain fully committed to driving it down in the future, keeping the people of NI safe and secure. There will be no let up in the pressure we apply to terrorists who reject democracy and who offer nothing but violence."
© UTV News