Fall in dissident republican attacks
The number of dissident republican attacks in Northern Ireland has fallen by 20 per cent so far this year, the Northern Secretary has said.
Barring a few exceptions, the potency and sophistication of violent dissident actions has also dropped, Theresa Villiers told a Westminster committee.
Ms Villiers warned the intention and capacity of dissident republicans to kill remained significant, and the British government remained vigilant to that threat.
Outlining the security assessment to members of Northern Ireland Affairs Committee, the secretary of state commended police on both sides of the Border for recent successes against dissidents.
“There have been 20 national security attacks so far in 2012 as against 25 to the end of October last year,” she said.
“The sophistication and potency of attacks is on the whole lower than in 2011, although there have been some exceptions to this.”
Ms Villiers said the threat level in Northern Ireland was severe, adding there had been “some fluctuations in the threat” over the last six months.
“The intent and capability of the dissident republicans remains significant, as is their potential to carry out potentially lethal attacks,” she added. “That should never be underestimated and we remain vigilant on these matters.”
In July, various dissident factions, including the Real IRA, announced they had joined forces and were now calling themselves the IRA.
Ms Villiers said this new group was to blame for leaving two bombs in Derry in September.
While the threat in Northern Ireland remains severe, earlier this month the assessment of a dissident attack in Great Britain was reduced to moderate.
Ms Villiers, on her first appearance before the committee since she succeeded Owen Paterson this summer, said she was satisfied the British government was doing everything it could to help tackle the threat.
She said she was confident the vast majority of people in Northern Ireland rejected, and would continue to reject, the dissidents. “I don’t believe they will achieve their ends of destabilising the political settlement,” she said.