Irish terrorists planning attack on targets in the UK, warns May
DISSIDENT Irish republicans are threatening to launch terror attacks in Britain, Home Secretary Theresa May warned yesterday.
It is feared terrorists have been carrying out reconnaissance on potential targets on the mainland in recent days.
Mrs May informed MPs of the renewed danger as the official threat level for Northern Ireland-related terrorism in Britain was raised.
MI5 increased it from “moderate” to “substantial” – meaning a terrorist strike is a “strong possibility”.
In a statement to the House of Commons, Mrs May said: “As a result of this change, we are working closely with the police and other relevant authorities to ensure appropriate security measures are in place.”
The public was urged to remain vigilant and report anything suspicious to the police.
Mrs May added: “But we should not be alarmed and this should not affect how we go about our daily lives.”
The renewed danger from dissident republicans comes at a time when the threat to the UK from Islamic State and other Islamic extremist groups remains at the higher level of “severe”.
That means an IS-related attack is “highly likely”.
The authorities had feared a surge in Irish terrorist activity linked to last month’s centenary of the Easter Rising in Dublin.
Democratic Unionist MP Jeffrey Donaldson said he was seeking an urgent Privy Council briefing. Mr Donaldson said: “It is evident that dissident republicans are now active in Great Britain and are examining potential targets.
“Obviously that’s a matter of concern. We had no prior indication that the threat level had been increasing.
“In Northern Ireland the threat has been severe for some time but quite clearly this is a new development in terms of dissident republican activity.”
The main focus of dissident terrorist activity continues to be Northern Ireland where police and prison officers are most in danger.
In March prison officer Adrian Ismay, 52, was fatally wounded when a bomb exploded under his van close to his home in east Belfast.
The father-of-three, who was a tutor at the Prison Service College, died 11 days later. A group calling itself the New IRA claimed responsibility for Mr Ismay’s murder and threatened further attacks.
There have also been a spate of shootings in Northern Ireland in recent days which have been linked to the dissidents.
The latest came on Monday when takeaway delivery driver Dan Murray, 55, was lured into a gun ambush in west Belfast by a bogus call.
A year ago he survived a murder attempt when a gunman blasted him in the face as punishment for his alleged drug dealing.
Dissident terrorists have been linked to both attacks on Mr Murray.
Threat levels for Northern Ireland-based terrorism are set by MI5 in consultation with the Police Service of Northern Ireland.