IRA dissident groups have been identified as a real threat to London's 2012 Olympics. The British minister for sports, Hugh Roberson said "threat assessments" have identified them as a clear danger.

He said British security agencies have determined that Northern Ireland-based groups could definitely stage terrorist attacks on Britain during the Games.

Speaking at the launch of the annual report on preparations for the Olympics, Robertson a former Army officer said "It's a threat to the Games".

He said the Government's concern over the threats has increased due to improvements in the way these sorts of threats are analyzed.

Robertson said "The security situation is uncertain. When we started talking about this two years out, nobody foresaw, for example, the rise in the threat of dissident Republicanism that they're facing over the water in Ireland…There are constantly different elements coming in and out of the equation. There's a greater understanding of the dynamic behind it.

“We have much more appreciation of what's precisely required to keep the Games secure than we did 18 months ago.”

Dissident Republican groups including the Real IRA, Continuity IRA and Oghlaigh na hEireann have increased their activities in recent years as they have rejected the power-sharing Northern Ireland Assembly.

In January the Police Service in Northern Ireland (PSNI) defused a bomb in Belfast which had been planted by Oghlaigh na hEireann. This bomb led to Northern Irish politicians being warned that the dissident's abilities to create sophisticated terrorist attacked and reached a new level.

MI5’s Joint Terrorism Analysis Centre's official threat level in Northern Ireland is "severe" while in Great Britain the threat is ranked at "substantial" a slightly lower level.