Page last updated at 15:31 GMT, Thursday, 5 March 2009

15% of MI5 workload is NI-related

MI5 building in London
MI5 allocated 15% of its resources to Irish-related terrorism

The intelligence service MI5 is still devoting considerable resources to Northern Ireland, according to a report from an oversight committee.

The Intelligence & Security Committee Report has revealed MI5 allocated 15% of its resources in 2007/08 to what it calls "Irish-related terrorism".

However, this was down from 17% in 2006/07.

The committee reports that dissident republicans continue to pose a threat in NI and the rest of the UK.

It said some loyalist groups continue to engage in violence and other forms of serious crime.

The report covers the period from December 2007 to November 2008.

On Wednesday, it emerged that the government and security services believe dissident republicans pose a greater threat than ever.

SECURITY REPORT
MI5 building in Holywood, County Down
Having a base in Northern Ireland also facilitates the Service's relationships with other organisations in Northern Ireland, including the Police Service of Northern Ireland
Security Committee Report

The threat assessment has been raised to "severe", meaning an attack is regarded as highly likely. The decision to upgrade the level was made by MI5 - responsible for gathering intelligence on dissident republicans.

For a number of years the threat posed by dissidents was "substantial", meaning attacks were regarded as a strong possibility.

While dissident groups remain relatively small and do not have a central command structure - intelligence information suggests groups in some areas are becoming much better organised and more technically sophisticated.

Their level of activity has also increased. Security sources have said that police have prevented a large number of planned attacks in recent months.

But the determination to carry out attacks has increased, and the police and security services are having to work much harder to stop them.



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