The security threat level in Northern Ireland has been raised.
Liam McBurney/PA Images via Getty Image
- Britain has raised the threat level in Northern Ireland to ‘severe’.
- This comes after recent attacks on police officers amid 25th anniversary celebrations of the country’s peace deal.
- World leaders are set to gather in the country to celebrate the anniversary next month.
Britain’s MI5 intelligence agency has increased the threat level in Northern Ireland from domestic terrorism to “severe” – meaning an attack is highly likely.
The move to return the level to its second highest category follows recent attacks on police offices and comes weeks before political leaders are due to gather in the province to celebrate the 25th anniversary of a peace deal that largely ended three decades of violence.
US President Joe Biden said this month that he had accepted an invitation to visit Northern Ireland in April, and both Bill and Hillary Clinton are due to attend anniversary-related events.
“The public should remain vigilant, but not be alarmed, and continue to report any concerns they have,” Chris Heaton-Harris, the British minister for the province, said in a written statement.
The British government said the level had been increased from “substantial” following the recent targeting of police officers, and it was not thought to be linked to the anniversary.
The threat for Northern Ireland had been held at severe since the system was introduced in 2010. It was lowered, for just over a year, in 2022.
Chief Constable Simon Byrne of the Police Service of Northern Ireland said his officers would not be deterred from “delivering a visible, accessible and responsive community focused policing service to keep people safe”.
An off-duty officer was left seriously injured last month following a gun attack that police said was carried out by the new IRA, a much smaller group than the Irish Republican Army, which disarmed following the Good Friday accord.
Detective Chief Inspector John Caldwell was shot a number of times by two gunmen while putting footballs in his car after finishing a coaching session with a youth soccer team.
Some 3 600 people died during the fighting between Irish nationalist militants seeking union with the rest of Ireland, and the British army and pro-British unionist militants wanting to stay in the United Kingdom.
Leaders are due to gather in Belfast in April to celebrate the signing of that peace deal, which was struck on 10 April 1998, and partially brokered by the US government of then-President Bill Clinton.