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UK threat level from Northern Ireland terrorists raised to 'substantial'

The UK threat level from Northern Ireland terrorists has been raised to 'substantial'. Credit: Stephen Kilkenny / PA Archive

MI5 has raised the official threat level in the UK from Northern Ireland-related terrorism from moderate to substantial.

This means a terror attack on British soil is a "strong possibility".

Home Secretary Theresa May said the move "reflects the continuing threat from Dissident Republican activity".

PSNI Assistant Chief Constable Will Kerr said:

There remains a real and serious threat from dissident republicans in Northern Ireland.

We are aware of the announcement in parliament today that that the threat level in Great Britain from Northern Ireland related terrorism has been increased from 'moderate' to 'substantial'.

Threat levels are kept under constant review and today’s announcement by the Home Secretary is about increasing awareness and encouraging vigilance.

The threat level in Northern Ireland has not changed and currently remains at 'severe'...

I would ask the public, as always, to remain vigilant and report any suspicious activity to police. Providing such detail to Police is vital and helps us protect our communities. It isn’t informing, it’s enabling us to keep you and your community safe.

– PSNI Assistant Chief Constable Will Kerr

The threat level to the UK from international terrorism remains unchanged at 'severe', which means that an attack is highly likely.

The five threat levels are:

  • Critical – an attack is expected imminently
  • Severe – an attack is highly likely
  • Substantial – an attack is a strong possibility
  • Moderate – an attack is possible but not likely
  • Low – an attack is unlikely

Democratic Unionist MP Jeffrey Donaldson expressed surprise at the threat assessment and is seeking an urgent Privy Council briefing to discuss it.

The Lagan Valley MP said: "It is evident that dissident republicans are now active in Great Britain and are examining potential targets. Obviously that's a matter of concern.

"We had no prior indication that the threat level had been increasing. In Northern Ireland, the threat has been severe for some time but quite clearly this is a new development in terms of dissident republican activity."