What’s old is new again, unfortunately. As Joe Biden prepares to visit Northern Ireland next week, authorities there have thwarted a bomb plot to overshadow the president’s visit.
The incident has caused some commentators to fear that “The Troubles” may return, leading to more violence in the country.
The Daily Mail reports that “a dissident republican terror group in Northern Ireland has been plotting a major attack to overshadow President Joe Biden’s visit to the region this week, according to local reports.
Officials recently raised the security alert to ‘severe’ from ‘substantial’ as the Republic of Ireland and the United Kingdom prepare to mark the 25th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement which ended decades of violence, known as ‘the Troubles.’
An insider told the Belfast Telegraph that the British Army bomb squad was on the scene last weekend.
‘They were looking for parts to make a bomb,’ said the source.
‘The belief is that the New IRA was planning some sort of attack to coincide with Biden’s visit, similar to the mortar attack on the cops in Strabane last November.’
“Sources in Londonderry said the New IRA had plotted a bomb attack on the police service to coincide with the US President’s visit to Northern Ireland on Easter Tuesday.
They told the newspaper: ‘The PSNI spent four days searching around Kildrum Gardens and the Letterkenny Road, and then they were back last weekend in Coshowen with the British Army bomb squad.
‘They were looking for parts to make a bomb. The belief is that the New IRA was planning some sort of attack to coincide with Biden’s visit, similar to the mortar attack on the cops in Strabane last November.’
New IRA’s Derry leader Thomas Mellon had reportedly demanded a ‘spectacular’ event to overshadow the peace accord’s anniversary,” according to The National.
The BBC explains, “The term “dissident republicans” describes a range of individuals who do not accept the Good Friday Agreement – the 1998 peace deal which ended the worst of the Troubles in Northern Ireland.
The Provisional IRA – the main armed republican paramilitary group for most of the Troubles – declared a ceasefire in the run up to the agreement and officially ended its violent campaign in 2005.
Dissident republicanism is made up of various groups which broke away from the Provisional IRA in the 1980s, 1990s and 2000s, including the Continuity IRA and New IRA.
The groups are much smaller than the Provisional IRA, although they have access to high-calibre weapons and have used improvised explosive devices and mortars in attacks and attempted attacks.”
The dissidents have continued to deploy violent tactics in hopes of uniting the island under a single state, but much of their activities have been undermined by security forces.
President Biden will be in Ireland and Northern Ireland from April 11 to 14 “to mark the 25th anniversary of the Good Friday peace accord on one side of the Irish border and visit his ancestral home on the other, the White House said on Wednesday, wrote Reuters.
The Good Friday Agreement – signed on April 10, 1998 – largely ended three decades of sectarian bloodshed that had convulsed Northern Ireland, a part of the United Kingdom, since the late 1960s and took the lives of over 3,600 people.
However the anniversary has been overshadowed by a year-long boycott by Northern Ireland’s largest pro-British unionist party of the power-sharing devolved government central to the 1998 deal. The party is angry over post-Brexit trade rules that treated the province differently to the rest of the U.K.
Biden will travel to Northern Ireland from April 11-12 to mark the “tremendous progress” since 1998 and underscore the United States’ readiness to support Northern Ireland’s ‘vast economic potential,’ the White House said in a statement.”
American presidents have played a significant role in brokering peace in Ireland over the past few decades. In the 1990s, President Clinton “twice within hours rescued negotiations over Northern Ireland’s Good Friday peace deal by personally calling key figures, a previously secret document has revealed.”
The peace has been on shaky ground since the departure of the UK from the European Union. Brexit started “significant challenges in managing the Irish border, and thus posed a threat to the Good Friday Agreement as it is generally considered a hard border on the island of Ireland would go against the spirit of the deal. Irish America responded by reorganising and lobbying to protect the accord. Even when running for the presidency in 2020, Joe Biden – fiercely proud of his own Irish heritage – famously tweeted a warning to the UK: ‘We can’t allow the Good Friday Agreement that brought peace to Northern Ireland to become a casualty of Brexit.’”
The Clintons will be visiting Belfast during the week to mark the 25th Anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement by attending a conference at Queen’s University, where the former Secretary of State serves as a chancellor.