Who are the dissident republican group the New IRA?
The New IRA are believed to be the largest and most active of the dissident republican terrorist groups in Northern Ireland. PSNI Chief Constable says the paramilitary group claims to be in possession of the details of 10,000 staff leaked in a data breach.
The New IRA and attacks on the PSNI
The New IRA claimed responsibility for the shooting of Detective Chief Inspector John Caldwell in February.
In March MI5 increased the terror threat level in Northern Ireland from “substantial” to “severe”, meaning an attack is highly likely.
The New IRA has been linked to a number of murders, including those of journalist and author Lyra McKee in 2019, Pc Ronan Kerr in 2011, and prison officers David Black in 2012 and Adrian Ismay in 2016.
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Detective Chief Inspector John Caldwell was shot in February (Brian Lawless/PA)
When was the New IRA formed?
The New IRA is believed to have been formed between 2011 and 2012 following the merger of a number of smaller groups, including the Real IRA, the group behind the 1998 Omagh bomb.
The group is strongest in Derry and Strabane, with a presence in Belfast, and other pockets in Co Tyrone and Lurgan in Co Armagh.
In August 2020 the alleged leadership of the New IRA suffered a major blow with a series of arrests prompted by an MI5 surveillance operation.
Less than a year before, in September 2019, a bomb in an “advanced state of readiness” was found in the Creggan area of Derry.
Police said the device, attributed to the New IRA, was designed to kill police officers.
Police and army bomb disposal experts at Shandon Park Golf Club in east Belfast (David Young/PA)
Dissident republican activity
In June 2019 the New IRA claimed responsibility for the failed attempted murder of a police officer after an unexploded bomb was found under the officer’s car parked at Shandon Park Golf Club in Belfast.
In April that year the New IRA claimed responsibility for shooting dead Ms McKee, who was observing rioting in the Creggan area.
A month before the murder of Ms McKee, the New IRA claimed responsibility for sending small explosive devices in the post to two airports and a train station in London and to the University of Glasgow.
In January 2019 police blamed the New IRA after a bomb placed in a van exploded outside the court building in Derry.
CCTV footage shows a car bomb exploding outside the court on Bishop Street in Derry (PSNI/PA)
Dissident republican groups and the threat level
Dissident republican terrorist activity has been at a lower level in Northern Ireland in recent years and security services have secured a number of successes disrupting the activities of terror groups.
Last March the level of terrorism threat from dissident republicans was lowered from severe to substantial for the first time in 12 years.
The level is subject to continuous review and judgments are based on a wide range of information.
This was the first time the threat level in Northern Ireland was reduced from severe since it was first published in 2010.