A PIPE-BOMB attack on a PSNI landrover carried out by self-appointed Londonderry vigilante squad Republican Action Against Drugs (RAAD) in June was one of 14 confirmed national security attacks this year in Northern Ireland, the Secretary of State Owen Paterson has told MPs.
He told the House of Commons that the PSNI was “pursuing a strategy to tackle the actions of both this group and other reckless vigilante organisations, which command little support from the wider community.”
Mr Paterson said that RAAD alongside the various IRA splinter groups - Real IRA (RIRA), Continuity IRA (CIRA), and Óglaigh na hÉireann - were “involved in a range of criminal activity, often at the expense of their own communities - both to fund their activities and their individual lifestyles.”
The Minister provided a detailed security briefing to Parliament as a result of his commitment to provide bi-annual updates in the wake of the dissolution of the Independent Monitoring Commission (IMC).
He claimed the decision to provide the PSNI with an “exceptional additional” war chest of £200m to tackle the dissident threat over four years in 2011 was now producing results.
Addressing MPs he said: “There are still a small number who favour violence and reject democracy. They have no respect for life, no respect for human rights and no respect for the will of the people in both Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.”
He said the threat of an attack in Northern Ireland was ‘highly likely’ and that an attack in Great Britain was a “strong possibility.”
Despite this progress has been made including arrests, charges and convictions through the “excellent work of the PSNI” and An Garda Síochána.
“There have been a total of 76 arrests so far this year, including arrests by An Garda Síochána in the Republic of Ireland. There have also been 37 charges against those involved in national security attacks brought since January 2012, including a number of charges for serious terrorism related offences.
“A number of weapons and improvised explosive devices have been seized. These combined efforts have had a positive impact. Despite this, however, attacks continue and the intent of groups engaged in Northern Ireland related terrorism remains high,” he said.
The Minister went on to refer to RAAD as a reckless vigilante organisation.
“RIRA, CIRA and the group that refers to itself as Óglaigh na hÉireann all continue to be very active, as do a number of ‘unaffiliated,’ but no less dangerous, individuals.
“In June, the paramilitary organisation RAAD, which regularly conducts brutal shootings against people in Londonderry, attacked the PSNI with a pipe bomb.
“The PSNI is pursuing a strategy to tackle the actions of both this group and other reckless vigilante organisations, which command little support from the wider community,” said Mr Paterson.
He said these groups were continuing to seek money and guns, train members and identify targets and using crime as a fundraiser.
“Paramilitary groups also continue to be involved in a range of criminal activity, often at the expense of their own communities—both to fund their activities and their individual lifestyles,” he said.
He also said a pipe-bomb attack by RAAD on a PSNI landrover attending a security alert in Creggan in June was amongst 14 national security attacks confirmed since the start of 2012.
“All but one have been pipe bombs, which have primarily been used to attack PSNI officers or their families. These included a device thrown at a property where PSNI were attending a call out and a number of pipe bombs, which were thrown at PSNI officers while carrying out a clearance operation of a suspicious object.
“In the most recent confirmed national security attack, a pipe bomb was thrown at a PSNI vehicle patrol; the device functioned but did not cause any injuries or damage to the vehicle.
“The other attack was a large improvised explosive device containing over 600lb of home made explosive which was abandoned near the Irish border at Newry.
“This was successfully defused by ammunition technical officers. It was destined to be an attack on the community in Northern Ireland and would certainly have endangered lives,” said the Minister.
The Minister also referred to punishment style attacks which he said were carried out by both republican and loyalist paramilitary groups.
He described those who carried out these “brutal shootings” as sickening cowards.
“Republican paramilitary groups also continue to carry out shootings on members of their own community. These attacks are both cowardly and sickening.
“They show a complete disregard for the human rights of their victims and for their families,” he blasted.