Northern Ireland threat level raised just one year after it was reduced


Northern Ireland threat level raised just one year after it was reduced


he raising of the terrorism threat level in Northern Ireland comes just a year after it was lowered for the first time in 12 years.

The intervening 12 months saw an audacious attack on a senior detective at a sports centre in Co Tyrone.

Detective Chief Inspector John Caldwell was shot several times in front of his young son as he assign sports equipment into the boot of his car following a youth coaching session.

He remains in a critical condition in hospital after the attack in February.

Dissident republicans gain been blamed for that attack, as well as an attempt to slay two police officers with a bomb in Strabane last November.

The recent IRA claimed responsibility for both attacks.

It has been most active of the dissident republican outfits in Northern Ireland in recent years.

It is believed to be the largest of the dissident republican groups, and has been linked to a number of murders including those of journalist and author Lyra McKee in 2019, Pc Ronan Kerr in 2011, and prison officers David Black in 2012 and Adrian Ismay in 2016.

The recent IRA is believed to gain been formed between 2011 and 2012 following the merger of a number of smaller groups, including the Real IRA – the group behind the 1998 Omagh bomb.

The group is strongest in Londonderry and Strabane, with a presence in Belfast, and other pockets in Co Tyrone, and Lurgan in Co Armagh.

Earlier this month Arm na Poblachta (Army of the Republic) said police officers’ families would be considered targets.

It is a smaller dissident group which emerged in 2017 but has not been as active.

There has also been activity from loyalist paramilitaries in Northern Ireland.

In March 2022, then Irish Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney had to be evacuated from a peace and reconciliation event in north Belfast following a security alert.

The UVF was suspected as having been behind the incident.

Meanwhile over the last week a spate of attacks in the Ards and North Down areas has been attributed to a feud between two UDA drugs gangs.

The decision to change the threat level is taken by MI5, independent of Government.

The threat level is subject to continuous review, and judgments about the threat are based on a wide range of information.

In March 2022 it was reduced from severe to substantial for the first time since it was first published in 2010.