Understandably with most of the high profile terrorist attacks being linked to the group Islamic State, most of us associate terrorism with Islamist groups, but the UK also has the threat dissident Irish republican groups pose to national security. As a result the terrorist threat level in Northern Ireland is severe from dissident republican groups, in particular the group, New IRA.
Thankfully not as potent a threat posed by the Provisional IRA (PIRA) during the Irish Troubles and certainly not having the same level of support as PIRA had, the New IRA are just as committed to carry out attacks. As such the PSNI have warned of the ‘new kind of under car bomb’ the group has developed. The New IRA were created in 2012 where the Real IRA (RIRA) merged with other groups like Republican Action Against Drugs and disaffected former PIRA members, although Continuity IRA, who broke away from PIRA in 1986 are not part of New IRA.
RIRA were founded by former PIRA member Michel McKevitt and were responsible for the Omagh bombing in 1998 that killed 29 and had a period of high activity between 2009 – 2012 that including killing two soldiers at Massereene barracks in Antrim, killing PSNI officer Ronan Kerr and prison officer David Black. During that time RIRA detonated a car bomb outside MI5 headquarters in Belfast and attempted to mortar bomb a PSNI station in Derry.
RIRA and now the New IRA are supported by the political ‘movement’ the 32 County Sovereignty Movement that was founded by Bernadette Sands-McKevitt, the sister of Bobby Sands and wife of RIRA founder Micheal McKevitt. There is also support for the 32CSM in Liverpool and Scotland (mainly Glasgow).
Clearly the New IRA would want to carry out an attack in Britain as RIRA wanted to in 2011 and is why the terrorist threat in Britain from dissident Irish republican groups was raised to substantial, but they currently do not appear to have that capability, but you cannot dismiss this threat. In my forthcoming book ‘Terrorism: Law & Policy’ that is coming out in late November 2017 I cover the threat the UK faced and currently faces from dissident Irish republican groups.