Cross-border co-operation in Northern Ireland 'is saving lives'

Taoiseach Enda Kenny will be meeting David Cameron in London for the first of what will be an annual Anglo-Irish summit.
Cross-border security co-operation is saving lives in the face of an upsurge in dissident republican violence, the Northern Ireland secretary, Theresa Villiers, said on Monday.

Villiers used an Anglo-Irish trade meeting in London, timed to coincide with David Cameron meeting the taoiseach, Enda Kenny, to thank the Dublin government and its security forces for helping to counter the threat from groups like the new IRA.

Speaking at a meeting of the British Irish Chamber of Commerce, Villiers said she wanted to "place on the record here my immense gratitude to the taoiseach for the unprecedented level of security co-operation between our countries. That co-operation has undoubtedly saved lives."

She said both governments were pledged to "maintain our security effort against those who oppose democracy and undermine the political institutions in Northern Ireland through terrorism and murder."

Her remarks in London were made as the Police Service of Northern Ireland warned that a bomb left near the Belfast Lough shore on Saturday evening was a sophisticated device designed to cause maximum carnage.

Three PSNI officers escaped injury when the device left at the Duncrue pathway in north Belfast exploded at about 9.15pm.

DCI Karen Baxter said: "There was a significant degree of planning involved and this was a sophisticated device. The people that left this have been reckless with their intention. They don't care who they kill – but the target was very clearly officers."

The PSNI are exploring the theory that those behind the bomb blast had planned to lure the patrol into the area via a coded telephone warning that a bomb was placed near the lough shore.

The rise in the number of attempted terrorist murders of police officers and continuing loyalist street disorder across Northern Ireland will be discussed in Monday's meeting between Cameron and Kenny, which is part of a new annual Anglo-Irish summit.

Kenny will also raise the imprisonment of former IRA Old Bailey bomber Marian Price, which Irish officials believe has created a martyr figure for dissident republicans.

Nationalist parties in Northern Ireland have argued that Price should be freed on humanitarian grounds given the state of her health, and the recent death of her sister Dolours.

The discussions will also include Ireland's EU presidency and the latest attempts by Dublin to secure a loan deal on its bank debts from its European partners.



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