Varadkar and Johnson condemn Fermanagh bomb attack

Taoiseach, PM reiterate ‘desire to see the Northern Ireland political institutions reinstated’

Both leaders spoke by phone in the waeke of the incident. Photographs: Liam McBurney/PA Wire and Peter Nicholls/PA Wire

Both leaders spoke by phone in the waeke of the incident. Photographs: Liam McBurney/PA Wire and Peter Nicholls/PA Wire

 

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and British prime minister Boris Johnson were among those to condemn the suspected dissident bomb attack at Wattle Bridge close to the Border in Co Fermanagh on Monday

The pair spoke by phone on Monday evening in the wake of the bombing which the PSNI have described as the “attempted murder” of its officers and which has caused alarm about increased activity by dissident republican paramilitaries in the wake of a no-deal Brexit.

In a statement, the Taoiseach and the prime minister “reiterated their desire to see the Northern Ireland political institutions reinstated urgently, and agreed to work closely to this end”.

DUP leader Arlene Foster: ‘The threat from republican terrorists still exists.’ Photograph: Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker
DUP leader Arlene Foster: ‘The threat from republican terrorists still exists.’ Photograph: Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker

No justification

Earlier Mr Varadkar said the “cowardly actions” of those responsible for the bombing could have resulted in “devastating consequences”.

“There is never any justification to use violence to achieve political aims. The people of Ireland, North and South, had their say on this issue when they voted overwhelmingly and emphatically for the Good Friday Agreement,” he said.

DUP leader and MLA for Fermanagh and South Tyrone Arlene Foster said her thoughts were with the PSNI officers and British bomb disposal officers who escaped injury. It was a reminder “of the bravery of our security forces”, she said.

“The threat from republican terrorists still exists. It’s time they left the stage and allowed everyone to move on. This was a clear attempt to kill,” added Ms Foster.

She described those behind the attack as “opportunists who want nothing more than to cause fear and destruction”.

“They will not be allowed to succeed,” she added.

The Sinn Féin MP for Fermanagh South Tyrone Michelle Gildernew said the attack was “totally wrong”.

“Thankfully no one was injured in this incident but we could have been dealing with a situation where people were seriously injured or worse,” she said.

“Those responsible for this incident have nothing to offer society and need to end these actions immediately. Anyone with information on this should bring it forward to the PSNI,” added Ms Gildernew,

Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan called the attack a “despicable act perpetrated by persons with no regard for law, order or democratic principles.”

“I am determined to ensure that we will not go back to the bad old days and I fully support the work of the PSNI in tackling this form of indiscriminate, cowardly violence,” he added.

“An Garda Síochána will be liaising with their colleagues in the PSNI and I would urge anyone with information on this attack to come forward to the authorities.”

SDLP Fermanagh councillor Adam Gannon said those responsible must be caught.

“We’re very fortunate not to be dealing with the death or serious injury of police officers or members of the public,” he said.

“Murdering or maiming police officers achieves no goals and it is a crime that has no support in Fermanagh. No one here wants to see members of our community killed in their name. Those responsible are criminals threatening our community and they have to be caught. Anyone with information should come forward to police as soon as possible,” added Mr Gannon.

‘Absolutely disgusted’

SDLP MLA and Policing Board member Dolores Kelly said:“There is no place for this in the society we’ve created. The SDLP will be meeting with the chief constable later this week and we’ll be raising the security threat in Border communities as an urgent matter.”

Local Ulster Unionist Party Assembly member Rosemary Barton said she was “absolutely disgusted to hear that yet again republican terrorists have tried to murder police and army technical officers in Co Fermanagh”.

“This is a despicable crime and should be condemned in the strongest possible terms. My thoughts are with the police officers and soldiers who thankfully escaped injury in this cowardly attack,” she said.

Added Ms Barton, “For many years the people of this area were subject to a terrorist campaign of murder and intimidation resulting in people being forced to move from their homes. Now once again the lawabiding people of this area are being targeted. This has happened several times within the past year. Sadly terrorists are still at work in our society.”

Minister for Health Simon Harris described the attack as “despicable, regressive and a throwback to an Ireland no-one needs to go back to”.

“It should remind us all of the fragility of peace and the importance of continuing to nurture the peace process and restoring the institutions.”