Funding increase sought to deal with dissident threat
Justice Minister Naomi Long has called for a funding increase for police to deal with the dissident republican threat following the attempted bombing of a PSNI officer and her three-year-old daughter.
Mrs Long was due to meet Secretary of State Brandon Lewis to discuss policing last night. In advance of the meeting the Justice Minister said the bomb attack reflected the challenges facing police.
The New IRA claimed responsibility for the attack on a part time police officer at her home at Ballyquin Road close to Dungiven. The police officer, who is also a civilian worker with the PSNI, spotted the bomb beside the rear of her car on Monday morning. It was subsequently found to be an explosive attached to a container of flammable liquid.
Police later said the device could have caused a “fireball” which would have engulfed anyone nearby. Assistant Chief Constable Mark McEwan said the device was placed directly beside where the police officer’s young daughter sits in the car. ACC McEwan said the toddler’s car seat would have been clearly visible to those placing the device on that side of the car.
Mrs Long said it was always known that the threat level against police was severe. However, she said the Dungiven attack re-enforced how vulnerable officers could be.
“We can be absolutely clear that our focus is on removing paramilitary and terrorist organisations from our community, that we will invest the resources that are required to make that a reality and that we will work very closely with the PSNI and with communities to build resilience in communities so that there is resistance to the kind of coercive control of these organisations,” she said.
The minister said it was important that police were given the resources to do what was required. Ms Long said additional resources have been set aside for the PSNI to recruit 100 extra officers. However, more resources were needed to deal with the “particular terrorist threat”. She intended raising that need with Secretary of State Mr Lewis at last night’s meeting.