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Terrorism Threat

Volume 611: debated on Wednesday 8 June 2016

4. What steps the Government is taking to tackle the increased terrorism threat in Great Britain from Northern Ireland. (905251)

Our first duty is to keep people safe, and we give our full support to the police and the intelligence services. The threat level in Great Britain recently changed to “substantial”, meaning that an attack by dissidents is a strong possibility. People should be vigilant and alert, but not alarmed.

Police and prison officers who tirelessly serve the community day in and day out are often the targets of republican dissident activity. What measures are being taken to mitigate the risk that they face?

An extensive range of measures are being taken. The protection of police and prison officers is at the heart of our efforts to counter the terrorist threat in Northern Ireland, because the threat that they face is one of the most serious faced by any profession. The additional security funding provided by the Government under the “Fresh Start” agreement is contributing to necessary protections for the police and prison officers who do such an important job for our whole community, and we will continue to do all that we can to protect them.

Does the Secretary of State agree that, while we face a threat from dissident republicans in Northern Ireland, the greatest such threat comes from the Republic of Ireland, as has been demonstrated by the recent arms and explosives finds and arrests, and does she agree that those dissident republicans have the capacity to launch campaigns on the UK mainland?

It is certainly true that dissident republican terrorist groupings have the aspiration to attack in Great Britain. Their main focus remains Northern Ireland, but they do have that capability and lethal intent. Every effort is being made to counter their activities, including their activities south of the border, through the co-operation that now exists between the police services and other security organisations in the north and the south.