Page last updated at 08:46 GMT, Tuesday, 10 November 2009

'Dissident threat to NI judges'

Real IRA graffiti in Londonderry, Northern Ireland, November 2007
Dissident republicans are targeting members of the judiciary

Judges in Northern Ireland have had to increase their security arrangements due to the increased threat posed by dissident republicans.

According to a report in the Times newspaper, police have restored 24-hour security for dozens of judges.

It reports that they have been given security guidance, which includes checking under their cars for bombs.

It also said in some cases judges have been told not to leave their homes without security personnel.

The newspaper reports that the threat level faced by the judiciary was raised two weeks ago after a judge in County Londonderry was alerted to having been tracked to a restaurant with his wife by dissident republicans.

Last week, the Independent Monitoring Commission (IMC) reported that the dissident republican threat was at its highest level for almost six years.

The IMC said the two main dissident republican groups, the Real IRA and the Continuity IRA, were working more closely together to increase the threat posed to security forces.

On 7 March, the Real IRA killed sappers Mark Quinsey, 23, and Patrick Azimkar, 21, at Massereene Army base in Antrim.

Two days later the Continuity IRA shot PSNI Constable Stephen Paul Carroll in Craigavon, County Armagh.

In the period covered by the report, there have been 11 attempts to kill other PSNI officers in Northern Ireland.

During the Troubles the IRA murdered three judges - Rory Conaghan in 1974, William Doyle in 1983 and Lord Justice Sir Maurice Gibson in 1987.

They also murdered Lord Justice Gibson's wife Cecily as well as Mary Travers - the daughter of Judge William Travers. Judge Doyle and Ms Travers were both shot dead as they left Catholic churches.

Two resident magistrates - William Staunton and Robert McBirney - were also victims of the IRA. They were murdered in 1972 and 1974 respectively.

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