14 December 2005

British army join PSNI in pre-Christmas patrols


14/12/2005 - 12:08:52

British soldiers are to support increased police patrols across the North in the lead up to Christmas, it was revealed today.

Amid heightened threat of dissident republican terrorist bomb attacks, the British army will be used to strengthen security.

Assistant Chief Constable Peter Sheridan said: “We have already urged the public to be more vigilant.

“There is a minority in our society which does not want to move on.

“All they can offer is destruction and devastation. We are determined to do everything we can to thwart their efforts.”

In previous years paramilitaries opposed to the peace process have launched a series of attacks, such as firebombing shops, during the holiday period.

And after the discovery of a number of real and hoax devices, Mr Sheridan confirmed more police would be on the streets between now and Christmas.

“Where appropriate we will be assisted by our military colleagues,” he added.

“The operation will involve vehicle checkpoints and possibly searches of vehicles and people. We ask the public to co-operate with us.

“The only people we want to disrupt are the criminals who are determined to disrupt life for everyone else.

“We would remind business owners and managers of the dangers of incendiary devices. Please be vigilant. Review your security measures. Check your premises regularly.”

The Police Service of Northern Ireland refused to say when soldiers were last deployed during a Christmas campaign.

A spokeswoman said: “We use the Army as and when appropriate.”

But Sinn Féin claimed the decision to bring in the military would compound nationalist and republican alienation from the police service.

Conor Murphy, the party’s Newry and Armagh MP, said: “The British Army have no role to play in the future of policing in the six counties.

“No policing service accompanied by heavily armed British soldiers will be acceptable to nationalist communities in the north.

“Today’s announcement by the PSNI that they intend to patrol alongside the British army over the Christmas period shows just how far the PSNI still have to travel before reaching the threshold demanded by an acceptable and accountable civic policing service.

“A civic policing service does not behave in this fashion.”

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