Dissident IRA attempt to blow up Northern Ireland peace process
Dissident IRA members exchanged gunfire with the Northern Irish police force, the PSNI, and attempted to blow up the Northern Ireland Policing Board headquarters in Belfast with a 400 lb. car bomb over the weekend.
The bomb only partially exploded and there were no reported injuries in both incidents. It is believed that this was an attempt by dissident Republicans to destabilize the peace process.
There has being widespread condemnation of the attacks from both the Unionist and nationalist communities.
The Police Board offices houses representatives from all major parties; it is their job to supervise police activity and represent all aspects of Northern Ireland's community. It is feared that they are "legitimate targets" to dissident republicans.
Sinn Fein junior minister Gerry Kelly suggested that this was an attack on the community and the politicians that support the peace process.
"The Policing Board is made up of locally elected politicians and members of the public working to hold the PSNI to account,” Kelly said. “This attack is an attack not just on the Policing Board members but on the communities who elect them. It is unacceptable and I condemn it."
The PSNI chief constable Matt Baggott warned that the dissidents would not succeed in destabilizing the peace process and further added that the bomb attack was an attack on the young people of Northern Ireland.
“This attack is an attack on the well-being of everybody in Northern Ireland. This is not about an attack on policing or the Policing Board, this is an attack on young people and young people’s future,” said Baggott.
The policing Board chairman Barry Gilligan was adamant that the attacks would have no effect on policing and that the PSNI would provide an effective and efficient police force.
“We will continue to work on behalf of the entire community to deliver that effective and efficient police service which they demand and which they are entitled to,” he said.
There was also an incident in Garrison village in County Fermanagh. Shots were exchanged between a masked gunman and police. It is believed the target may have been a police officer that resides in the village.
Three men were arrested following the shooting. They are currently being held for questioning by detectives. One of the suspects was arrested and held for questioning in the Republic.
The PSNI is now reviewing their security arrangements as well as fellow police officers and those that are associated with the Policing Board.
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