[QODLink]
Europe
UK ups Irish-related threat level
Attack on mainland from Northern Ireland-related groups is a "strong possibility", interior minister says.
Last Modified: 24 Sep 2010 19:45 GMT
May said 'the first and most important duty of government is the protection and security of the British people' [EPA]

British security services have raised the threat level from Northern Ireland-related violence to suggest an attack is now a "strong possibility" in the mainland United Kingdom.

The threat to Britain is still lower than the overall threat from so-called international terrorism, which remains unchanged at "severe".

"The director-general of the security service has informed me that he has raised the threat to Great Britain from Irish-related terrorism from moderate to substantial, meaning that an attack is a strong possibility," Theresa May, the UK interior minister, said in a statement on Friday.

"Judgments are based on a broad range of factors, including the intent and capabilities of terrorist groups.

"The first and most important duty of government is the protection and security of the British people."

It is the first time the government has published its assessment of the threat posed by Irish-related groups to Britain. A spokesman for the interior ministry would not say if the change was linked to any specific threat.

Jonathan Evans, the head of MI5, Britain's domestic security services, warned last week that dissident republicans opposed to the UK's rule in Northern Ireland could strike mainland UK.

In rare public comments, Evans said there had been a "persistent rise in terrorist activity and ambition" by such groups in Northern Ireland over the past three years.

Northern Ireland has been largely at peace since a 1998 agreement brought an end to three decades of violence between groups seeking to unite British-ruled Northern Ireland with the Irish Republic and Unionists who want the region to remain as part of the UK.

But in recent months, republican dissidents have attacked security forces several times, with the so-called Real IRA believed to be leading much of the campaign including car bombings and shooting at police officers.
   
Real IRA leaders threatened earlier this month to launch more attacks against "military, political and economic targets".

Source:
Agencies
Topics in this article
People
Country
Organisation
Featured on Al Jazeera
Muslim volunteers face questioning and threat of arrest, while aid has been disrupted or blocked, charities say.
Six months on, outrage and sorrow over the mass schoolgirl abduction has disappeared - except for families in Nigeria.
ISIL combatants seeking an 'exit strategy' from Mideast conflict need positive reinforcement back home, analysts say.
European nation hit by a wave of Islamophobia as many young fighters join ISIL in Syria and Iraq.
Featured
Lacking cohesive local ground forces to attack in tandem, coalition air strikes will have limited effect, experts say.
Hindu right-wing groups run campaign against what they say is Muslim conspiracy to convert Hindu girls into Islam.
Six months on, outrage and sorrow over the mass schoolgirl abduction has disappeared - except for families in Nigeria.
Muslim caretakers maintain three synagogues in eastern Indian city, which was once home to a thriving Jewish community.
Amid fresh ISIL gains, officials in Anbar province have urged the Iraqi government to request foreign ground troops.