Northern Ireland

First minister to raise security threat with Chancellor

Real IRA graffiti in west Belfast
Image caption Threat levels in Northern Ireland remain 'severe'

The first minister is to discuss the increased threat level posed by dissident republicans to Britain with the Chancellor of the Exchequer.

Peter Robinson is due to meet George Osborne with Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness next week to discuss the budget cuts.

Mr Robinson said it "was crucial that enough resources are made available to combat the threat".

Mr McGuinness said the meeting was arranged at the beginning of the month.

"The notion that this meeting will focus on the speculative remarks of the British Home Secretary yesterday, at a time when, like most other government agencies, MI5 will be interested in securing their own budget, is incorrect," Mr McGuinness said.

He said the meeting would "focus on impending budget cuts for the north" and putting up a robust defence for frontline services, those most vulnerable and the most disadvantaged communities.

Mr Robinson said he would raise reports of the increased threat level with the Chancellor.

'Strong possibility'

"It's one of the issues we will raise with him because there should be no impediment to us being able to deal with the threat of terrorism and we want to make sure that the resources are there so that the police can do the job," he said.

Home Secretary Theresa May said on Friday that a dissident attack in the UK was now a "strong possibility".

Richard English of QUB said the threat needed to be seen in context.

"Although it's a much much lower threat than used to be from the Provisional IRA say, in the 70s, 80s and early 90s, it's clear that there is an episodic and occasionally lethal threat from those who are still unreconciled to the current arrangement," Professor English said.

"Over the last five years they have killed nine people, which is an awful thing but nothing like enough to derail the current option of political progress through peace rather than violence."

The threat level to Britain from Irish-related terrorism has been raised from moderate to substantial.

Home Secretary Theresa May said the threat level to Britain from Irish-related terrorism has been raised from moderate to substantial.

She said this meant an attack was a "strong possibility".

It was the first time this threat level had been published, the Home Office confirmed.

The head of security service MI5 warned last week that dissident republicans opposed to British rule in Northern Ireland could strike mainland Britain.

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

The new category of threat from Ireland applies to England, Wales and Scotland but not Northern Ireland, where the level also remains "severe".

BBC Belfast correspondent Andy Martin said: "There is no indication that there is a specific target or indeed that there is capability of dissident republicans to mount an attack, but there is no doubt a desire to mount an attack on Britain."

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