Dissidents blamed after viable mortar discovered

Dissidents blamed after viable mortar discovered

10 April 2019

POLICE last night blamed dissident republican terrorists for a mortar tube and command wire which were discovered near Castlewellan.

A senior officer said that the discovery of the device on the Drumnaquoile Road helped foil a potential attack on local police.

The items were recovered during a security operation after a member of the public noticed the device lying just off the road before 3pm on Monday.

The device was found near to a derelict dwelling.

It is understood that one nearby family had to be evacuated from their home for their own safety until the operation finished. 

The road was closed off overnight during the search operation and reopened around Tuesday lunchtime.

Detective Inspector Orr, of Crime Operations Terrorism Investigation Unit, said that the device was “in a fairly good condition relative to other similar devices we have uncovered”.

He said it had not been at the location for a long time, perhaps for as little as one day.

He said that after “a full and extensive clearance operation” nothing further had been found and that the items would now be subject to detailed forensic examination. 

He added: “I am appealing for local people to help us identify those responsible for leaving this device so close to a public road and to come forward with any information they may have.

“Whilst at this stage, it is too early to attribute ownership to any particular grouping, it’s my belief that dissident republican terrorists are responsible and that this find has undoubtedly prevented an attack on local police.”

South Down MLA Colin McGrath described the discovery as “both worrying and unacceptable” and a “disgraceful attempt to murder or injure most probably a passing PSNI patrol”.

The SDLP man added: “This behaviour had no place in the 1970s or 80s and it certainly has no place now. People have moved on and these types of actions are not acceptable and have no support in our community.

 “Those responsible need to accept that they progress no-one’s agenda but their own and the wider community will condemn this activity and call for it to cease.”

Local Sinn Fein councillor John Rice also condemned those responsible for the device.

The Slieve Croob representative said: “As we approach the local government election, the only acceptable way to get your message across to the community is at the ballot box, not like this. This also seriously inconvenienced members of the public with the road closure, particularly schoolchildren trying to get to school.”

Ulster Unionist Alan Lewis has said he commended “the diligence of the local resident who spotted the device and alerted emergency service”.

He said that it looked like the device was “positioned to ambush and kill”, adding: “Police should now begin to carry out local searches to establish where and how this device was constructed. We must now see a widespread security operation which would reassure public confidence.”

Police have appealed for anyone who have have information to contact them on101, quoting reference 721 09/04/19.