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An armed PSNI officer in Belfast. Alamy Stock Photo

British intelligence services have lowered the terrorist threat level for Northern Ireland

MI5 classified an attack as being “likely”, rather than the more severe “highly likely”.

THE BRITISH INTERNAL intelligence service, MI5, has lowered its terrorism threat level for Northern Ireland from severe to substantial. 

The organisation classified an attack as being “likely”, rather than the more severe “highly likely”.  

In a statement MI5 said that the decision to change the threat level “is a systematic, comprehensive and rigorous process, based on the very latest intelligence and analysis of factors which drive the threat”.

“This positive step reflects the commitment of communities from across Northern Ireland to build a safer place to live and work.

“As ever, the public should remain vigilant and report any concerns they may have to the police. There remains a small group of people determined to destabilise the political settlement in Northern Ireland through acts of terrorism,” the statement said. 

Chief Constable Jon Boutcher of the PSNI welcomed the news.

“Over recent years we have successfully prevented attacks and investigated and pursued groups, such as the New IRA, who don’t care about placing our communities at significant risk through their reckless attempts to kill police officers.

“It is sad that there is still a small group of people within our society who are intent on causing harm and dragging Northern Ireland back to the past. No-one wants this and we will continue to pursue anyone involved and bring them before the courts in order to make our communities safer,” he said. 

Boucher said that a year on since the shooting of Detective Chief Inspector John Caldwell the PSNI continues to pursue those responsible. 

“Following the reduction in the threat level the public won’t see an immediate change in how we deliver policing and our priority will remain the same, to deliver a visible, accessible and responsive community focused policing service to keep people safe,” he added.

In a statement to The Journal, a spokesperson for the Department of Justice said: “While a threat level of substantial, which means that an attack is considered likely, is of serious concern, the reduction in the threat level in Northern Ireland from severe to substantial is welcome.

“The security situation on the Island is kept under continuing review by An Garda Síochána in close cooperation with the British Security Service and PSNI,” the spokesperson said.

“There is a long shared history between the two jurisdictions in counteracting terrorism on the Island and there is excellent co-operation between An Garda Síochána and their counterparts in Northern Ireland, the PSNI and the British Security Service.”

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