An official state propoganda agency has claimed that Irish republicans are committed to launching an attack in Britain “if the opportunity emerges”.
The so-called ‘Independent Monitoring Commission’, which provides periodic military briefings to the mainstream media, also said that the various dissident groups are more united and working more closely together than ever.
In its latest report published on Wednesday, the IMC said what it described as the republican “threat” was the highest it had seen over the last six years.
It also stressed that former members of the Provisional IRA -- described as “terrorists” -- are increasingly supportive of the dissident groups.
“There are indications that former republican terrorists have, as individuals, provided services in some instances to dissident republican groups, which, even if occasional, can significantly add to the threat,” it said.
The latest IMC report covers the period from March to August this year. The period included the attacks at Massereene British Army base in County Antrim and in Craigavon, County Armagh, which claimed the lives of two British soldiers and a member of the PSNI.
The IMC said the groups’ armed campaign now poses “a major challenge” to the Crown forces.
“The overall level of dissident activity was markedly higher than we have seen since we first met in late 2003,” it said.
The IMC said dissidents could be undermined by the transfer of policing and justice powers from London to Belfast, arguing that the move would signal the strength of the political process.
The Fianna Fail Minister for Justice in Dublin, Dermot Ahern, backed the report, describing dissidents as “unrepentant criminals”.
British Direct Ruler Shaun Woodward told the London parliament that the briefing lent support to swift progress on the transfer of policing powers to Belfast.
“It’s very, very clear that there is a political solution and what they advocate is that actually early devolution of policing and justice powers to the Northern Ireland assembly could provide a potent intervention.”
For his part, the DUP deputy leader Nigel Dodds said the report showed the importance that the “conditions are right” before any transfer of policing and justice powers.
“We will continue to press ahead, however, in ensuring there is community confidence prior to any transfer of these sensitive powers.”