Scepticism over ‘ferry bomb’ reports

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A statement reportedly made in the name of the Continuity IRA claimed responsibility for a device found on a lorry trailer in County Armagh last week. The statement said the device had been timed to coincide with Britain’s exit from the European Union.

It said the device had been attached to a refrigerated trailer belonging to a haulage firm based at the industrial estate and was intended to highlight Brexit.

“It was timed for Britain’s exit from the EU and to bring attention to the sea border,” it stated.

At a press conference, the PSNI said it discovered the device at an industrial estate in Lurgan on Monday, about 40km inland from Belfast port, its alleged destination.

The incident is shrouded in mystery and has led to allegations of ‘dirty tricks’.

It was noted that reporting of the incident was delayed for several days and released with less than 48 hours to go before polling stations open in a general election in the 26 Counties. Mainstream media carried banner headlines about a shadowy republican plot to “blow up a ferry”, but ferries in the Irish Sea, used by thousands of civilians from both communities, have never been targeted by armed groups in the North.

The planned ‘sea border’ -- the imposition of trade and regulatory protocols between the islands of Ireland and Britain -- has also been condemned exclusively by unionists, and would have been considered a possible target by loyalists.

However, the PSNI used the incident to justify increased Crown Force activity. The public could expect to see “an increased uniformed presence in and around ports in Northern Ireland”, as well as “additional covert security measures”, they said, without further explanation.

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