Plea for public help to combat paramilitaries

Derry’s police chief has called for the public’s help to combat dissident republican paramilitaries in the city.

Chief Inspector Jon Burrows, who returned to the role of acting Area Commander for Foyle this week, said there is a responsibility on the “wider community” to help the PSNI combat paramilitary groups. He said the threat from armed organisations with a presence in Derry, including the recently formed ‘IRA’ - a grouping made up of vigilante gang Republican Action Against Drugs and the Real IRA - “remains severe”.

“Countering threats from anti-peace republican groups is a priority for the PSNI and we are constantly working to combat them. It is too early to say what impact the recent amalgamation (so-called IRA grouping) will have.”

However, he added: “This is not a matter for the police alone. There is a responsibility on the wider community to raise their voices against these anti-peace groups and help the police by providing information and support. Police will always be more successful with the active support of the community.”

Although the threat remains severe across the North, police have been involved in a range of operational activities in recent months and claim to have made some inroads in combating the groups in the Derry area.

“We have made 21 arrests in the District (which covers Derry, Limavady, Strabane and Magherafelt) with four people being charged with terrorist-related crime since the start of the current financial year in April 2012. In the previous financial year, April 1, 2011 to March 31, 2012, 38 people were arrested with 13 people charged with terrorist-related crime.”

CI Burrows added: “The role of information in tackling those who seek to turn the clock back is very important and we would urge people to give us support or information they have to the police or anonymously by calling Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.”

There have been few significant attacks by dissident republican paramilitaries in the city in recent months. In the most recent incident a pipe bomb was thrown at police conducting a search of a house at Rath Mor Road in Creggan on June 2.

On Easter Monday a masked man read a statement in the city cemetery, promising more attacks in the city.

Derry’s tourist office and a public premises at Fletcher Street were targeted with pipe bombs in January.

Dissident republicans claimed responsibility for several attacks in the city in recent years, including bomb attacks of the City of Culture office, the Ulster Bank and Strand Road police station and the shooting of a police officer.