Concerns are rising within the community in South Armagh, Northern Ireland, after a local man was seriously wounded by a pipe bomb near his family home, The Belfast Telegraph reports. Mr McCabe – whose father is reportedly a Sinn Fein member – suffered injuries to his face, chest and body, and required emergency surgery. The explosion is being characterised by local Sinn Fein officials as attempted murder, and the location has been cordoned off to allow for forensic examination of the scene.
Occurring outside the family residence in Crossmaglen on Wednesday 25th February, The Newry Times reports that the pipe bomb was apparently triggered when Mr McCabe attempted to remove a poster disparaging members of the community with allegations of being informants. It is alleged by Sinn Fein MP Conor Murphy that the family in question was increasingly intimidated and threatened by local gangs.
“Over recent months, criminal gangs masquerading as republicans have threatened the family of the young man injured. Now, these people have attempted to kill a member of the family with a device placed close to their home. In recent months, death threats have also been made against a number of Sinn Fein activists, including myself.”
“There have been a series of posters put up in the area alleging different people were informers, attacking different people in the community – they were systematically removed by neighbours in the area and that’s what leads me to believe it was attempted murder.”
“Let me be absolutely clear; this was the work of a gang of criminals and I unreservedly condemn this latest cowardly action. These thugs are opposed to the peace process and opposed to policing because of their involvement in organised crime.”
The Irish Times reports that the attack on Wednesday was included in a scheduled MI5 briefing given to British Parliament by Northern Ireland Secretary Theresa Villiers on Thursday 26th February. The assessment highlighted the 22 serious dissident attacks that were perpetrated in 2014, and the single attack seen so far this year, as well as detailing that the level of threat due to terrorist activity remains severe in Northern Ireland.
“PSNI and prison officers as well as members of the armed forces continue to be the principal targets for dissident republican terrorists, and the threat to life persists. A number of those violent groupings continue to attack, or aspire to carry out attacks, including the so-called ‘new’ IRA, Oglaigh na hEireann and factions of the Continuity IRA.”
“The close working relationship between the PSNI and AGS (An Garda Siochana), and their efforts both North and South of the Border, has led to considerable success in combating the threat from dissident republican terrorists over the last six months. I am confident that both police services will do all that they can to build on this through 2015 as they make progress with a number of ongoing investigations.”
“With every attack that is mounted and the many more that are foiled, the PNSI and its security partners become more knowledgeable, resilient and able to tackle the threat and bring the perpetrators to justice.”
As reported by The Belfast Telegraph, Alliance policing board member Trevor Lunn MLA accused those responsible for the attack of wanting “to see a return to the dark days of the Troubles,” echoing the fears of members of the wider community. Though the term “the Troubles” was originally used to refer to the Irish War of Independence (1919 – 1921), more recently, the term has been adopted to reference the conflict within Northern Ireland that began in 1968. The bloody conflict that resumed in the late 1960s became increasingly violent – causing terrorist incidents to also be perpetrated in the Republic of Ireland, mainland U.K and Europe.
While other factors – including ethnic and sectarian issues – play a part, the essence of the conflict surrounds the constitutional status of Northern Ireland as a part of the United Kingdom. In the broadest of terms, Loyalists want the status quo to remain, while Republicans want a unified Ireland, independent of the U.K. The Good Friday Agreement established a broad ceasefire in 1998, but it is estimated that over 3,500 people were killed in the intervening 30 year period.
[Image: Christopher Furlong/Getty Images]