Authorities have raised the terrorism threat level in Northern Ireland from “substantial” to “severe,” signaling that an impending attack is likely following an MI5 intelligence assessment warned about rising dissident republican activity, namely from the New IRA.
UK Secretary of State for Northern Ireland Chris Heaton-Harris made the announcement on Tuesday, telling the public to remain vigilant, but not alarmed. This also comes as Northern Ireland prepares for the 25th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement on April 10, which brought an end to the Troubles.
Dissident republicans who operate under the loosely organized New IRA have been responsible for a majority of dissident activity in Northern Ireland over the past several years, such as targeted shootings against police, car bombings, and mail bombings. In February, the New IRA claimed responsibility for the attempted assassination of Police Service of Northern Ireland Detective Chief Inspector John Caldwell. The group began in 2012 when the Real Irish Republican Army, Republican Action Against Drugs (RAAD), and other dissident groups merged to form the “New IRA,” which sought to continue actions against the Good Friday Agreement.