Page last updated at 13:36 GMT, Wednesday, 16 December 2009

Government protection pledge after judge flees Belfast

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

Shaun Woodward has said the Government will do "everything we can" to protect people after a senior judge had to flee his Belfast home.

It emerged last week that Mr Justice Treacy's home was put on the market for £650,000 after a pipe bomb was found near it in September.

Northern Ireland Secretary Mr Woodward told the Commons violent dissident republicans were a "small minority".

He said the Government would ensure people had "appropriate protection".

He also praised the "tireless and successful" work of the police in ensuring the "criminals" who were trying to disrupt the peace process were thwarted.

He said had the 400lb bomb planted outside the Policing Board's headquarters in Belfast last month exploded it would have led to "severe loss of life".

The device near the judge's Donegall Park Avenue house was made safe by the Army on the same day in September when he jailed three men involved in a plot to kill police officers with a mortar bomb in Lurgan, County Armagh, in April 2007.

At Commons question time Mr Woodward was asked about the threat to Justice Treacy.

He told Conservative MP Andrew Rosindell: "I would simply say this in relation to threats posed by these self-styled dissident groups in relation to individuals: we will do everything we can to protect people in Northern Ireland.

"It is very clear that this small minority of people who have no support in the community would like to undermine public confidence.

"We will ensure that those who promote peace and the politics and the institutions of Northern Ireland have the appropriate protection that they deserve."

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