PSNI chief condemns actions of dissidents

Trouble flares between youths and police at dissident republican rally in Derry

PSNI Chief Constable  Matt Baggott said the various dissident groupings were “trying to outdo each other”. Photograph: Paul Faith/PA

PSNI Chief Constable Matt Baggott said the various dissident groupings were “trying to outdo each other”. Photograph: Paul Faith/PA

 

PSNI Chief Constable Matt Baggott has hit out at the “reckless beyond measure” actions of dissident republicans after a bomb in Lurgan at the weekend represented the latest in a spate of potentially lethal attacks north of the Border.

The device exploded in a dog-fouling bin in a residential part of the Co Armagh town at 3pm on Saturday. Despite a police presence in the area due to a tip-off about an unnotified parade – thought to be a ruse to lure PSNI officers to the area – no one was injured.

Mr Baggott’s comments came on Monday as trouble flared between youths and police at a dissident republican rally in Derry.

Police say their vehicles and a police photographer came under attack from youths throwing missiles and at least one petrol bomb just before the Easter Commemoration event, which had been organised by the 32 County Sovereignty Committee.

About 200 people attended the event. Unlike in other years, no masked gunman in paramilitary garb addressed the crowd.

Dissidents have been blamed for a run of recent, potentially grave attacks, including the four live mortar bombs that were intercepted in Derry on March 4th.

These viable bombs – in a specially adapted van with a hole in the roof – were intended to blow up a police station, security sources believe. It’s the first time dissidents have attempted to carry out this type of operation, which could have led to major loss of life.

Then, on March 22nd, a 60kg bomb packed into a beer keg was defused in Co Fermanagh, less than 20 miles away from the site of this year’s G8 summit. Police believe the intended target this time was the heavily fortified PSNI station at Lisnaskea.

In his comments, Mr Baggott said the various dissident groupings were “trying to outdo each other”.

He said: “There is a competitiveness between these groups at the moment which is completely irrational but could end up in a very real tragedy indeed.”

Any of the recent attacks “could have killed innocent members of the public,” he added.

Meanwhile, the PSNI have said they are investigating an incident in north Belfast on Sunday when live rounds were reportedly fired at an Easter Commemoration event. Local MP Nigel Dodds has called the incident “a disgrace”.