Al-Qaeda’s threat to the UK has been superseded by terrorist activity in Northern Ireland (NI) according to MI5 information reported in the Sunday Times.
MI5 director general Jonathan Evans has channelled £20 million away from Al-Qaeda to operations concerning Northern Ireland’s dissident groups like the Continuity IRA (CIRA), the Real IRA (RIRA) and Oglaigh na hEireann (OnH).
There have been thirty-three attacks and attempted attacks in Northern Ireland this year. During the whole of last year twenty-two were registered in NI.
By contrast, only two “priority one” investigations into Islamic terrorism were carried out this year including one attack on a prominent Labour politician who cannot be named for legal reasons.
MI5 is spending 18% of its entire intelligence effort tracking groups such as CIRA, RIRA and OnH, up from 13% two years ago.
Óglaigh na hÉireann, when directly translated from Gaelic to English is “Irish Volunteers” (soldiers), according to the Irelandsown website. They were the Irish Republican Brotherhood, later to be known as the Irish Republican Army (IRA). Their U.S. counterpart was Clan na Gael.
It has come to be synonymous with the RIRA. The group is opposed to the Good Friday Agreement where all political parties in NI are to accept democratic rule in Stormont.
There was recent controversy over the suggestion that MI5 devolve its intelligence work in NI to the NI police.