Baggott to treat dissidents as ‘criminal enterprise’

The new PSNI chief constable has indicated that he plans to respond to dissident republicans in the same way as any other criminal enterprise.

Warning that the threat from breakaway factions was serious, Matt Baggott said it was a huge mistake to see terrorism as isolated from criminality.

“I think it’s very helpful to see it as a criminal enterprise,” he said.

Mr Baggott, who took over from Hugh Orde last week as head of the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI), was speaking in Dublin after his first official meeting with his counterpart in the Irish Republic, Garda Commissioner Fachtna Murphy.

Both insisted that the “truly impressive” co-operation between their police forces would continue to be key in the fight against the likes of the Real IRA and the Continuity IRA.

Mr Murphy dismissed suggestions that gangland criminality in the Republic was straining resources available to fight the terrorist threat.

The Garda Commissioner said key specialist units were keeping a presence along the border, after the recent discovery of a massive bomb, as well as dissident republican road checkpoints in South Armagh.

Asked for his assessment of the threat, he said: “We both see it as substantial.”

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