New threat to police from dissident republicans

 

Police in Northern Ireland are facing a new threat from dissident republicans, it was warned today.

With First Minister Peter Robinson and Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness due to have talks with Prime Minister Gordon Brown in London this afternoon, senior police chiefs have warned officers to be on full alert.

Assistant chief constable Drew Harris, of the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) crime operations department, was forced to pull out of a conference he was due to address in the centre of Belfast today on the fight against drug dealers.

Just before day two of the conference, organised by the Association of Chief Police Officers (Acpo) for England, Wales and Northern Ireland, got under way at the Europa Hotel, organiser Tim Hollis announced: “There is a heightened security threat for colleagues from the PSNI.

“Drew Harris has had to attend to that. Some of the threats from the past still remain.”

It was made clear that the threat was not specifically against Mr Harris or the conference.

Tony Melville, deputy chief constable for Devon and Cornwall, and Mick Matthews, assistant chief constable for Gloucestershire, were among senior officers due to speak at the conference later.

It was not immediately known where the threat emerged, but dissident republicans opposed to the peace process have been involved in a sporadic campaign to try to kill police officers in several parts of Northern Ireland this year.

Mr Robinson and Mr McGuinness are due to meet Mr Brown in London later today after the Democratic Unionist Party and Sinn Fein agreed arrangements for the transfer of policing and justice powers to the Stormont Assembly.

PA