Page last updated at 11:40 GMT, Monday, 14 December 2009

Judge sells Belfast home over dissident terror threat

Real IRA graffiti in Londonderry, Northern Ireland, November 2007
The threat from dissident republicans has increased

One of Northern Ireland's highest profile judges has moved out of his Belfast home over fears of a dissident republican threat against him.

Mr Justice Treacy's house in Donegall Park Avenue has been bought under the Housing Executive's Special Purchase of Evacuated Dwellings (Sped) scheme.

It is now listed for sale with a Belfast estate agent for £650,000.

In September, a pipe bomb found close to the house was made safe by Army experts.

Two controlled explosions were carried out on the device, found in Waterloo Park, off the Antrim Road.

The bomb was found on the same day Justice Treacy jailed three men involved in a plot to kill police officers with a mortar bomb in Lurgan, County Armagh, in April 2007.

At the time, police said they believed the men were members of the Continuity IRA.

The estate agent's advertisement for the property informs prospective buyers that "the dwelling is currently vacant and is in the ownership of the NIHE who acquired it under a special scheme from the previous owner who was forced to vacate it due to threat or intimidation".

A spokesperson for the Lord Chief Justice's Office said they did not comment on security matters.

In November, it was reported that judges in Northern Ireland have had to increase their security arrangements due to the increased threat posed by dissident republicans.

 Waterloo Park off the Antrim Road
Two controlled explosions were carried out on the device

In the same month, the Independent Monitoring Commission (IMC) said that the dissident 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.

A few weeks later dissidents tried to blow up the offices of the Northern Ireland Policing Board in Belfast.

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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IMC report - political reaction
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