The UK lowered the terrorism threat in Northern Ireland from “severe,” meaning an attack is highly likely to happen, to “substantial.” This assesment still indicates an attack is likely to happen.

The decision was made by the UK’s domestic security service, MI5, independently of government ministers, UK officials said.

Why was the level raised in 2023?

The level was raised around a year agoas the US President Biden was preparing to visiting Northern Ireland and celebrate 25th anniversary of the Good Friday agreement, a landmark peace accord that largely ended sectarian violence between Protestants and Catholics.

But with Brexit complicating travel and cross-border trade with the Catholic-dominated Republic of Ireland, authorities in both countries have grown vary of new threeats. A police officer was shot in 2023, and there had been a failed bomb attack in November 2022. Both of the attacks were claimed by the New Irish Army, New IRA, a dissident militant group that wants reunification with the Republic of Ireland.

US President Joe Biden speaks in Belfast.
US President Joe Biden has Irish roots.Image: Patrick Semansky/AP Photo/picture alliance

“Positive step” but public should stay vigilant, says Northern Ireland Office

“This positive step reflects the commitment of communities from across Northern Ireland to build a safer place to live and work,” said Northern Ireland Secretary Chris Heaton-Harris.

“As ever, the public should remain vigilant and report any concerns they may have to the police,” he added, warning that there was still “a small group of people determined to destabilise the political settlement in Northern Ireland through acts of terrorism.”

Ireland and the UK-ruled Northern Ireland have faced centuries of religous and political violence, with the most recent escalation known as “The Troubles” starting in the late 1960s. The Good Friday Agreement, on April 10, 1998, brought peace and transformed the UK region .

Northern Ireland marks 25 years since Good Friday agreement

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The annual security statistics by The Police Service of Northern Ireland’s (PSNI) for 2023 reveal an increase in paramilitary activity such as shootings, bombings and assaults. At the same time, the officials also recorded no security-related deaths since March 2023, which is the first time this happened since police records began in 1969.

as/dj (AFP, DW sources)


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