Julian Smith is convening weekly security meetings with the PSNI amid concerns violent republicans have sourced expertise from experienced IRA bomb-makers to stage a “spectacular big bomb”.
The Secretary of State provided details of the summits at his first NI questions.
“The PSNI and the security services have done an exceptional job over the summer. I pay tribute to them and their families, because people are trying to kill them—that is on the increase and certainly was over the summer.
“I have decided to convene a weekly security meeting that includes the PSNI to make sure that in the coming weeks and months I am apprised on a regular basis and meeting those people who are leading these teams putting their lives on the line,” said Mr. Smith.
He had been asked by DUP MP Jim Shannon what he was doing to combat the threat from violent republicans.
“In the Sunday papers at the weekend there were indications that dissident republicans are contacting experienced bomb makers in the IRA to make a spectacular big bomb,” said Mr. Shannon.
“What is being done to prevent dissident republicans from making contact with the bomb makers, to ensure that those bombs never happen in NI or anywhere in the UK of Great Britain and NI?” he asked.
Mr. Smith also stated that he did not wish to see a hard border in Ireland.
“We are fully committed to no hard border between NI and Ireland,” he said.
And he said Direct Rule was not the best option but would be considered if negotiations to revive Stormont failed.
“I am considering alternatives should that fail, but we have to try to get Stormont up and running,” he said.