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Threat Alert for Northern Ireland as It Marks 25 Years of Peace

This month marks 25 years since the Good Friday Agreement, signed on April 10, 1998, largely ended bloodshed that left 3600 people dead, some 50,000 wounded and thousands bereaved. Northern Ireland is observing the anniversary with a reunion of key peace process players and a visit from US President Joe Biden and British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak. The US brokered the deal between Irish Republican Army (IRA) and British loyalist paramilitary groups.

But police warned on Friday that armed dissident groups were planning violent attacks over the long weekend.

The Police Service of Northern Ireland Assistant Chief Constable Bobby Singleton said police had received intelligence about planned violence around a parade in Londonderry on Easter Monday commemorating the 1916 Easter Rising against British rule in Ireland.

He said there was “potential for dissidents to try and draw us in to disorder and then experience tells us where that happens, that can quite often become the platform for an attack on our officers.”

The threat from dissidents prompted British authorities last month to raise Northern Ireland’s terrorism threat level to “severe”, meaning an attack is considered highly likely.

The peace accord may have stopped the fighting, but deep divisions remain over the conflict’s legacy — making it hard for some of Northern Ireland’s 1.9 million people to move past it. And Britain’s exit from the European Union has only complicated matters, creating political tensions that have rattled the foundations of the peace agreement.

“It is time, in my opinion, to draw a line in the sand and move forward,” said Olphert, who recently retired after 30 years as a police officer – the same job held by his father John Olphert, who was shot dead by masked gunmen in 1983 in the family’s shop.

Source: watoday