Leading article

Semtex discovery underlines dissident threat

The discovery of 1.5 kg of explosives, believed to be Semtex, in a north Belfast tower block underlines once again the threat posed by dissident republicans and their callous disregard for people in their own community.

The fact that this deadly material is no longer in the hands of those determined to kill and injure will come as a welcome relief.

Police said the explosives were discovered following a tip-off from a member of the public and described the seizure as `significant'. It is thought the amount found would have been enough to make three under car booby-trap bombs.

We are well aware of the carnage that can be caused by such devices.

Prison officer Adrian Ismay died as a result of injuries caused by a booby trap bomb in east Belfast earlier this year while police constable Peadar Heffron was left severely maimed and his life changed forever after a dissident device exploded under his car.

It is also frightening to think that these high explosives were being stored in a block of flats in the densely populated New Lodge district of north Belfast.

Any attempt to assemble a bomb in such a built-up area would clearly have put lives at risk.

It is also the second time in two years that this type of material has been found at Maeve House. In May 2014, the biggest Semtex find for a decade - 2.5 kg of explosives - was discovered at the tower block.

Police have also had more recent success in recovering guns and bombs linked to dissident republicans.

Last month, an armour-piercing improvised rocket and two anti-personnel mines were among a major haul of weapons found in a hide in a wooded area near Larne, Co Antrim while in March bomb-making parts and explosives were discovered at nearby Carnfunnock Country Park.

Thankfully, this weaponry is no longer available to the bombers but people must remain vigilant in the face of the dissident threat.

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Leading article