Northern Ireland

Golf club car bomb: 'Only a matter of time' before officer killed

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Media caption'Officers have to be fully aware of the threat that they operate under'

It is only a matter of time before a police officer is killed by dissident republicans, the chairman of the Police Federation of Northern Ireland has said.

Mark Lindsay made the comments after a bomb was left under the car of an off-duty officer.

Police believe "violent dissident republicans" are behind the attack.

"We have to be lucky all the time, they only have to be lucky once," said Mr Lindsay.

The device was hidden under the police officer's car at Shandon Park Golf Club in east Belfast.

On Saturday night, police examined CCTV footage and searched the car park of the club, which is located close to the PSNI headquarters on the Knock Road.

Image caption The bomb was discovered at Shandon Park Golf Club in east Belfast
Image caption Police and Army bomb disposal experts attended the scene

Det Supt Sean Wright said the investigation centres on two cars, which were found burnt out in Etna Drive in north Belfast.

One was a green Skoda Octavia with a Dublin registration - 01 D 78089 - the other, a silver Saab with the registration NFZ 3216.

A cross-border investigation has been launched into the incident.

Police also appealed for anyone in the Ballyhackamore or Upper Newtownards Road area between midnight and 02:00 BST on Saturday 1 June to come forward.

"This was the early hours of Saturday morning when people will have been out socialising," said Det Supt Wright.

"The area will have been busy and I'd appeal to taxi drivers to consider if they have any dash-cam footage."

Image caption The police investigation centres on two cars, which were found burnt out in Etna Drive in north Belfast

Sinn Féin vice president Michelle O'Neill said she "wholeheartedly" condemned the attack and was "relieved" that no-one was injured.

"Our thoughts are with their family, who are obviously going to be distressed on the back of such a serious incident," she said.

"Those people who wish to drag us back will not succeed.

"They should disband and desist immediately."

Vigilant on and off duty'

Speaking to BBC Radio Foyle's breakfast show, Mr Lindsay said he was "disgusted, devastated but to be perfectly honest, not surprised" at the murder bid.

He said he had spoken to the targeted officer who was "very very shaken and distressed that he should be individually picked out".

"All this man is doing, a family man, is protect members of our community, and someone is trying to kill him because he's serving the community," he added.

Mr Lindsay said the terrorist threat in Northern Ireland has been classified as severe since 2009, which means an attack is "highly likely".

"Officers not only need to be vigilant on duty, but also off duty," he said.

"It means you have to look at patterns, where they socialise, personal security at their homes.

"You need to be aware that you're not being watched and targeted in this matter."

Image caption A cross-border investigation has been launched into the incident

Following the murder of journalist Lyra McKee by dissident republican group the New IRA, Mr Lindsay said "the public spoke very clearly...that these people (dissident republicans) have no place in this society".

"Despite the fantastic work, and probably the best security measures in the world working against these people, but sometimes they do get through," said Mr Lindsay.

"Hopefully I'm proved wrong, but historically that has been the case."

Mr Lindsay added that budget cuts to the police service were also an issue.

He said: "I think they're trying to do it as cheaply as possible and it's not necessarily working."

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