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New IRA involvement in bomb attempt on PSNI officer's home is 'strong line of inquiry'

The incident has been met with widespread condemnation.

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File Photo
Image: PA

Updated Apr 20th 2021, 3:52 PM

THE INVOLVEMENT OF the New IRA in the planting of a viable device under the vehicle of a member of the Police Service of Northern Ireland is a “strong line of inquiry”, Assistant Chief Constable Mark McEwan has said. 

He said the woman was targeted because she is a member of police staff and a part-time police officer.

The device was found outside her home in a rural area close to Dungiven, Co Derry. 

A security alert at Ballyquin Road, Dungiven remains ongoing following a report yesterday morning of a suspicious object in the area, the PSNI said this afternoon. 

Speaking this afternoon, ACC McEwan said the device was planted at the rear of the police officer’s car where her three-year-old daughter sits. 

“Yesterday morning, our colleague discovered a suspicious object beside her car in close proximity to her house on Ballyquin Road in Dungiven,” McEwan said.

“We assessed this was a viable device with explosives attached to a container with flammable liquid,” he said. 

“This was designed to cause a fireball which would have engulfed the victim’s car and anyone in it, or anyone close by or anyone calling to the house or anyone in the proximity.

“What is really distressing here is that the terrorists placed the bomb at the rear of the car, directly at the point where the victim’s three-year-old daughter sits,” McEwan added. 

“This demonstrates the complete and utter disregard for the life of a mother and her toddler. This simply beggars belief.”

McEwan said that “a strong line of inquiry” is that the New IRA is to blame for the attempted murder. 

“On several occasions before we have seen this group’s utter disregard for those working for local people in our community,” he said.

“I appeal to anyone who has any knowledge of this attack, or indeed of anyone involved in violent terrorist activity, to come forward and provide that information to police.”

‘Reckless and futile’

Stormont’s First Minister Arlene Foster said she spoke to the officer this morning.

In a tweet, the DUP leader said: “I wanted to convey our support and utter condemnation of those who sought to harm her & her family. Reckless and futile. 

Deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill: “The attempted murder of a police officer near Dungiven is reprehensible. Those involved in this attack will not succeed in their regressive and toxic agenda. All politicians mist united against these reckless actions.”

SDLP MLA Cara Hunter condemned the attack.

“No one should have to live in fear of going to work,” she said.

“Our officers protect our communities every day and keep them safe. My thoughts are with the officer and their families.”

Taoiseach Micheál Martin has also condemned the incident, saying it was a “deeply reprehensible and cowardly attack”. 

“Politicians across this island must work together to avoid a return to the dark days of fear and terror,” Martin tweeted. 

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Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney tweeted: “I completely condemn this despicable attack on a police officer near Dungiven.

“Our thoughts, solidarity and support go to her, her family and her PSNI colleagues. Anyone with information should assist with PSNI investigation.”


A separate bomb-threat arrest

In relation to a separate bomb threat from 2015, An Garda Síochána arrested a 33-year-old man this morning in connection with the attempted murder of an off duty PSNI officer.

On 18 June 2018, the PSNI officer had an under-vehicle improvised explosive device placed under his car in Eglinton, Co Derry.

Police Service NI’s Senior Investigation Officer Detective Chief Inspector John Caldwell said: “I would like to thank An Garda Síochána colleagues for their help in arresting the man by virtue of a European Arrest Warrant on suspicion of attempting to murder a police officer and possession of explosives with intent to endanger life.”

“He will appear before Londonderry Magistrates Court via video link from Musgrave Custody Suite on 21 April 2021. The police investigation into this incident remains active.”

Includes reporting by Press Association

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