The Northern Ireland Office, (NIO) is in a bid to re-brand dissident republicans as “residual terrorist groups” or RTGs in attempts to strip them of a perceived “status”.

A number of organizations including the PSNI have been encouraged to use the new term after an email was circulated to officers in recent weeks informing them of the name change.

But the idea has already met with resistance from police officers with sources saying that some are unhappy with the change.

According to The Belfast Telegraph the name change was prompted by NIO officials who disliked the term “dissident republicans” because “it gives them a status that they intrinsically lack”.

A spokesman for the NIO told the newspaper it was “important to try and get the language right”.

The term has already been used in official circumstances. When speaking about the bomb found in a parked car at Belfast International Airport, the Home Secretary, Theresa May said it had been placed there by “residual terrorist groups linked to Northern Ireland”.

The NIO spokesman said it wasn’t a technical term but “it’s just to get a better way to describe them.

“It applies to the Northern Ireland context. We have never liked the term ‘dissident republicans’, the word ‘dissident’ could describe organizations in any country.

“The term ‘residual’ refers to those who have taken the decision to be left behind and reflect the past when everyone else has moved on,” he added.

DUP Policing Board member Jimmy Sprat has criticized the term saying it was an attempt to dilute the threat posed by dissidents.

“It’s some sort of sexy term that somebody has decided to use to try and tone down the gravity of the situation,” he said.

“This organisation are clearly hell-bent on murder and mayhem and that has been evidenced over the past number of attacks.

“No term should be used to try and diminish what they are capable of,” he added.

Recent crime scene of grenade attack on a member of the police in Belfast