Police on both sides of the Irish border have stepped up plans to combat the dissident Republican group that has just claimed responsibility for the murder of Catholic policeman Ronan Kerr, ahead of the State visits by Queen Elizabeth and Barack Obama.

The move comes after officers investigating the recent murder of police officer Kerr in Omagh charged a man with terrorism offences.

The suspect is believed to be a member of a freelance gang of former Provisional IRA members operating from a base in East Tyrone.

The gang claimed responsibility for the Kerr murder on Thursday night, before the man was charged with terrorist activities.

In their first public statement, the group said they were: “Responsible for the recent execution of the RUC member in Omagh.”

They also claimed responsibility for the murder of two British soldiers at Massereene military barracks, a car bomb attack which seriously injured PSNI officer Peadar Heffron and an attack on the Policing Board headquarters in Belfast.

The splinter group also pledged to continue their murder campaign until ‘British occupation’ had ended and Irish unity was achieved.

The 33-year-old, charged late on Thursday night, will appear in court in Dungannon on Saturday accused of possession of firearms and explosives with the intent to endanger life and possession of articles likely to be of use in terrorism.

Officer Kerr was killed when a bomb exploded under his car as he prepared to leave for his new job at Enniskillen police station.

The killing was condemned by all sides of the political divide in Northern Ireland.
As he awaits trial, security chiefs in the Republic have drawn up separate strategies to combat possible terrorist attacks on the British Queen and President Obama during their state visits next month.

Up to 6,000 police and troops will be involved in the back to back security operations to protect the Queen and the US leader.

“Obviously, the homegrown dissident groups will provide the main threat to the queen's itinerary,” a senior security source told the Irish Independent.

“On the other hand, we are closely monitoring the movements here of known sympathizers of international terrorist organizations, some with links to the al-Qa'ida network, from where any danger to President Obama is likely to emerge.”


Murdered - 25-year-old Catholic rookie cop Ronan Kerr