Major PSNI operation for new chief’s arrival
Major PSNI operation for new chief’s arrival

A major military-style operation similar to that mounted for royal visits swung into action this week as Matt Baggott officially took over as the new PSNI chief.

He is understood to have moved into the official million Euro residence in the picturesque village of Crawfordsburn in north Down at the weekend.

On Friday police began ‘Operation Dissent’ to disrupt any potential republican activity in the run-up to Mr Baggott’s arrival.

Two men were arrested in Dungannon after the PSNI smashed their way into homes in the Ardboe area.

Hundreds of nationalists were detained and searched and homes were raided in Counties Derry, Armagh and Tyrone. One of those arrested in Ardboe was later released.

The PSNI also set up armed checkpoints across the north, particularly in north Belfast and on the Craigavon bridge in Derry, while Crown force helicopters were seen patrolling the skies in south Fermanagh, south and north Armagh, and in east and west Tyrone.

There were also claims that foot patrols were delivered by helicopter into a field in south Fermanagh under cover of darkness.

Earlier, the 32 County Sovereigny Movement condemned what it said was the “harrassment and intimidation” of residents of Newtownbutler in County Fermanagh on Sunday when over 60 members of the PSNI “stormed the village heavily armed” and sealed off the village with road blocks.

Villagers were taken out of their cars while en route to Mass, they said.

“Children that were with their parents were left standing on the roadside terrified at seeing there parents being searched by the PSNI/RUC.”

Bomb alerts were also reported in south Belfast and Armoy, County Antrim, although nothing was found.

The new PSNI chief made his first public appearance on Tuesday afternoon when he held a press conference at the Policing Board.

As sat down in front of the waiting media, the photographers’ camera shutters cracked off like automatic gunfire. His nervousness was evident as his hands shook as he began to read from a prepared statement.

Mr Baggott was closely questioned about Crown force killings, the ‘dissident’ republican threat and the current ‘no go’ areas in Armagh and Fermanagh.

Several times the diminutive Englishman appeared to look to Policing Board chairman Barry Gilligan, sitting at his side, for assurance, but revealed little of the PSNI’s plans.

After 21 minutes a subtle glance to one of an army of media handlers brought proceedings to an end.

* A caller claiming to represent the previously unknown ‘Real UVF’ has claimed responsibility for planting a small bomb in Antrim town tonight. It was defused by the British Army following a day-long security operation.

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