The terrorism threat level in Northern Ireland has been raised to severe, the NI Secretary of State Chris Heaton-Harris has announced.
The level, which was downgraded to substantial last year, has been raised to severe based on a Security Service (MI5) intelligence assessment. Last year’s downgrading was the first reverse of the threat level in Northern Ireland for 12 years.
It comes in the wake of the attempted murder of Detective Chief Inspector John Caldwell on February 22.
The 48-year-old, a high-ranking officer and active investigator into dissident and drug-related crime, was shot multiple times by two gunmen while he was off-duty and coaching youth football.
The New IRA claimed responsibility for the attack.
Addressing the increase of the Northern Ireland Related Terrorism threat level, Chief Constable Simon Byrne said: “Today the threat level has been increased from substantial to severe by MI5. The independent assessment means the threat has moved from an attack is ‘likely’ to an attack is ‘highly likely’.
“This is part of an ongoing process of monitoring the threat level in Northern Ireland, which is conducted by MI5. We have spoken publicly about the number of attacks that have taken place in recent months, not least the attempted murder of DCI John Caldwell on February 22.
“We will relentlessly pursue those who seek to cause harm and terrorise our communities, and attack my officers and staff, and I pay tribute to them as they continue to deliver for our communities.
“I would also like to thank the community and political leaders of Northern Ireland for their overwhelming support for the Police Service in recent times.
“We will not be deterred from delivering a visible, accessible and responsive community focused policing service to keep people safe.”