Police in Northern Ireland reportedly disrupted a bomb plot by members of the New IRA ahead of President Biden’s visit this week to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement, a deal that brought an end to the decades-long low intensity civil war known as “the Troubles.”
Members of the New IRA, a paramilitary splinter group of the Irish Republican Army, were “looking for parts to make a bomb” in the border city of Derry, a police source told The Belfast Telegraph.
“The belief is that the New IRA was planning some sort of attack to coincide with Biden’s visit, similar to the mortar attack on the cops in Strabane last November,” the source told the local newspaper.
FILE PHOTO: President Joe Biden speaks at the Friends of Ireland Luncheon on St. Patrick’s Day, March, 17, 2023. (Fox News Digital)
The Police Service of Northern Ireland (NPSI) did not respond to a request for comment on Sunday. Authorities have warned in the lead-up to Biden’s visit that political dissidents could be planning violence to disrupt the event.
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MI5, the United Kingdom’s top intelligence agency, raised the terrorism threat level in Northern Ireland from “substantial” to “severe” last month. It had been lowered to “substantial” one year ago.
“Over the last 25 years, Northern Ireland has transformed into a peaceful society. The Belfast (Good Friday) Agreement demonstrates how peaceful and democratic politics improve society. However, a small number of people remain determined to cause harm to our communities through acts of politically motivated violence,” Chris Heaton-Harris, the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, said on March 28 after M15 upped the threat level.
“In recent months, we have seen an increase in levels of activity relating to Northern Ireland Related Terrorism, which has targeted police officers serving their communities and also put at risk the lives of children and other members of the public.”
FILE PHOTO: A man walks past a dissident republican mural in the Bogside area of Derry, Northern Ireland. (BEN STANSALL/AFP via Getty Images)
NPSI Assistant Chief Constable Bobby Singleton told reporters earlier this week that authorities have “very strong community intelligence” that attacks were being planned in Derry, the city where a bomb plot was reportedly foiled, according to BBC News.
The New IRA, whose members want Northern Ireland to leave the UK and join the Republic of Ireland, claimed responsibility for the shooting of an off-duty senior police officer two months ago in Omagh.
A new mural painted on to the so called Peace Wall gates that separates the catholic and protestant communities can be seen on April 3, 2023 in Belfast, Northern Ireland. (Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)
A spokesperson for the White House National Security Council declined to comment on the trip.
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Biden will visit Belfast in Northern Ireland on Tuesday and Wednesday to commemorate the signing of the Good Friday Agreement and “underscore the readiness of the United States to support Northern Ireland’s vast economic potential,” the White House said.
The president will then travel to Ireland later in the week, with plans to visit Dublin, County Louth, and County Mayo.