British police are warning that Birmingham could be targeted by IRA dissident groups in the run-up to the Conservative Party conference there at the beginning of October.
Security experts have told businesses in the city that dissident republicans are a threat to Birmingham. The assessment contradicts recent opinion that republican splinter groups are not well enough equipped to mount a campaign in Britain.
The Birmingham security message was delivered at an anti-terror training session held for bosses of Broad Street hotels, bars and restaurants. The area is home to the Hyatt Hotel, the base for British Prime Minister David Cameron’s party during the conference.
The latest news comes in the wake of bomb attacks last week in Derry, Kilkeel and Bangor, County Down. The escalating tension has led to security chiefs in Belfast and Dublin re-assessing the scale of the threat, and whether a sustained campaign in Ireland or Britain is even logistically feasible.
In 2001 a car bomb partially exploded in Birmingham city center, but caused no injuries and limited damage. It was believed to have been the work of the Real IRA.
Meanwhile representatives of the dissidents have rejected an invitation from Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams to engage in talks. Des Dalton from Republican Sinn Fein said: 'Unfortunately Gerry Adams chose to embark on the road which was forecast where it would end up; where they are today. Gerry Adams and his organization are now fully absorbed into the apparatus of British rule in Ireland and we feel we have absolutely nothing to say to them on that basis.'
Northern Secretary Owen Paterson told BBC Radio Ulster on Monday that he would not be seeking talks with the dissident republicans.
'You cannot have any meaningful talks with people who are not committed to peaceful means. They are not listening. They are disparate. They are a very small armed group with no discipline or clear focus on where they are going,' he said.