The police have warned of the possibility of public disruption caused by dissident Republicans during the Easter holiday. Chief Constable Simon Byrne informed the Policing Board that the incident could be an attempt to attract officers into gun or explosives attacks. MI5 has elevated the terrorism threat level in Northern Ireland to severe, indicating that an attack is extremely likely. The 25th anniversary of the signing of the Good Friday Agreement in 1998 is being commemorated with events. The agreement brought an end to the Troubles, a 30-year period of violent violence in Northern Ireland that claimed the lives of over 3,500 people.
Mr Byrne stated that the PSNI has made temporary modifications to shifts in order to place additional officers on the front lines. Senior detective John Caldwell was shot multiple times at a sports complex in Omagh, County Tyrone, in February, resulting in life-changing injuries. Police suspect the attack on the off-duty cop was carried out by the dissident Republican organization the New IRA.
Following the meeting of the Policing Board, Assistant Chief Constable Bobby Singleton stated that the PSNI had “very strong community intelligence” that assaults were planned in Londonderry. Officers must “be prepared for that, and we will be prepared for all eventualities on Monday,” he said.
Evil men and women
Sir Jeffrey Donaldson, the leader of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), disputed on Friday that the prospect of dissident violence had escalated as a result of the current political vacuum at Stormont. In protest over post-Brexit trade arrangements, the DUP has refused to return to a power-sharing government.
“The notion that evil men and women who go out to commit murder are motivated solely by political circumstances simply does not hold water.” “Some of the chief constable’s police officers were killed by these dissident republicans while Stormont was sitting,” Sir Jeffrey told BBC Radio Four’s Today programme.
“Of course, we want Stormont to be fully functional, but I didn’t hear the chief constable suggest that when we get Stormont back up and running, dissident Republicans will put their guns away,” the DUP leader continued. According to Gerry Kelly, Sinn Féin’s policing spokesperson, dissident republican paramilitaries are “a small number of people intent on reversing the peace process, the political process, and all of that for no good reason.”
According to Mr. Kelly, the “vast majority of people across the north, across Ireland, and elsewhere are absolutely against them, so they have no support base.”
Sara Canning, Lyra McKee’s spouse, has stated that her “heart sinks,” but she is not surprised when she hears of probable violence tied to dissident Republicans during the Easter holiday. Ms McKee, 29, was killed while monitoring unrest in Derry’s Creggan area on April 18, 2019. The New IRA has already stated that its members were to blame. “I can’t say I’m surprised because it’s something we’ve become accustomed to, which is a sad state of affairs 25 years after the Good Friday Agreement,” Ms Canning added. “These people must realize that their time has passed and that there is no longer any support for them.”
Lyra McKee’s spouse, Sara Canning, has indicated that her “heart sinks,” but she is not surprised when she hears of potential violence linked to dissident Republicans during the Easter weekend. Ms McKee, 29, was slain on April 18, 2019, while monitoring rioting in Derry’s Creggan district. The New IRA has already claimed that it was its members’ fault. “I can’t say I’m surprised because it’s something we’ve grown accustomed to,” Ms Canning continued. “These people must recognise that their time has passed and that they no longer have any support.”
Later that day in Belfast, Tanaiste (Irish deputy Prime Minister) Micheál Martin claimed the threat of an attack on police showed “criminality in its worst form.” “I believe this is being considered by very evil people,” he stated.
Mr. Byrne has stated that the visit of US President Joe Biden next week in connection with the Good Friday Agreement celebration, which actually falls on Monday, will put further strain on resources. To assist, approximately 300 officers will be called in from other UK forces. The security operation around the presidential visit, anniversary festivities, and Easter has been estimated to cost £7 million.