Theresa May warns of dissident attacks in Britain

British home secretary raises threat level from moderate to substantial following killing

Theresa May told MPs  that the dissident threat in Britain has increased from moderate to substantial, meaning an attack in England, Scotland or Wales is a “strong possibility”. Photograph:  PA Wire

Theresa May told MPs that the dissident threat in Britain has increased from moderate to substantial, meaning an attack in England, Scotland or Wales is a “strong possibility”. Photograph: PA Wire

 

The likelihood of dissident republican attacks in Britain has increased, British home secretary Theresa May has indicated in a statement to the House of Commons.

Ms May told MPs on Wednesday that the dissident threat in Britain has increased from moderate to substantial, meaning an attack in England, Scotland or Wales is a “strong possibility”.

“Substantial” is the third of five levels of threat operated by the British intelligence service MI5. The level of dissident threat in Northern Ireland remains at “severe” which means an attack is highly likely. The highest threat level is “critical” which means an attack is imminent.

The raising of the threat level comes following the recent murder of prison officer Adrian Ismay by the group known as the “New IRA” and by the security assessment that this group in particular has grown in capacity and capability.

Threat

The home secretary said the main threat from dissidents continued to be in Northern Ireland, “where they have targeted the brave police and prison officers who serve their communities day in and day out”.

“The reality is that they command little support. They do not represent the views or wishes of the vast majority of people, both in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, who decisively expressed their desire for peace in the 1998 Belfast Agreement and have been transforming Northern Ireland ever since,” she added.

Vigilant

The British and Irish governments have allocated significant finance and resources to combat groups such as the New IRA, Oglaigh na hEireann and the Continuity IRA in recent years.

There is security consensus that the deadliest of the organisations is the New IRA which was responsible for Mr Ismay’s murder in March. The organisation is comprised of the Real IRA, Republican Action Against Drugs and dissidents who have acted more or less independently or in co-operation with some of the other groupings.