The terror threat level in Northern Ireland has been increased from “substantial” to “severe”. The announcement was made by MI5 and ministers in the House of Commons were told this by Northern Ireland Secretary Chris Heaton-Harris.
This change in status is highly significant. It means that an attack is “highly likely”.
In a written statement, Mr Heaton-Harris said: "MI5 has increased the threat to Northern Ireland from Northern Ireland Related Terrorism from ‘SUBSTANTIAL’ (an attack is likely) to ‘SEVERE’ (an attack is highly likely).
"The public should remain vigilant, but not be alarmed, and continue to report any concerns they have to the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI)."
Mr. Heaton-Harris added: "a small number of people remain determined to cause harm to our communities through acts of politically motivated violence".
The announcement follows the attempted murder of serving PSNI officer, DCI Stephen Caldwell, who was shot several times by masked gunmen outside a sports complex near Omagh, Co. Tyrone in February. The attack was claimed by a group calling itself the New IRA and the PSNI has stated dissident republicans are the main line of inquiry in the investigation.