Unionist MLA Doug Beattie fears return to violence after bomb

‘They’re creating a fear in people who don’t know what’s happening’

 

Ulster Unionist Party MLA Doug Beattie has said that he is gravely concerned about the possibility of a return to violence after a bomb exploded in Co Fermanagh on Monday morning.

The device exploded close to Wattle Bridge at around 10.35am after bomb disposal experts had defused a larger device in the area.

It was “a determined, well planned, murderous attack by republican terrorists who get up in the morning and their aim is to kill a police officer or a soldier”, he said.

There was no doubt that the target was an army technical officer or a police officer, Mr Beattie told Newstalk’s Pat Kenny show.

The location of the bombing, close to the border, was deliberate because “Brexit is looming,” he added.

“They’re creating a fear in people who don’t know what’s happening. They are playing on fears.”

Mr Beattie said that the aim was to increase police and army activity on the border to make it appear that the border is now being “policed”.

“They want to create the perception that the military are back on the border again. I am genuinely concerned at where we are at this time.

“The two governments – in the UK and in Ireland – need to take measures to clamp down on republican terrorists who are trying to drag us back to the old days of violence.”

PSNI deputy chief constable Stephen Martin on Monday appealed for political progress to help resist the threat from dissident republicanism.

Mr Martin said the bombing was most likely the work of the Continuity IRA or the New IRA. He suspected that PSNI officers and a team of British army ammunition technical officers were lured to the scene near Newtownbutler in a deliberate attempt to kill and injure them.

“The Continuity IRA have been present for a long time, but I think it is fair to say their level of activity has increased this year,” he added.

Mr Martin said there were five dissident attempts to murder police officers this year, one of which resulted in the shooting dead by the New IRA of journalist Lyra McKee in Derry.

“Although this device was intended to kill police and army personnel the fact that it was placed on a main road the result could well have been devastating for anyone in the immediate vicinity,” he said.

On Monday morning, former PSNI boss Ken Pennington said the return of a hard border would be an excuse for a renewal of violence in the North.