'Bomb designed to cause fireball' found under Northern Ireland officer's car

20 April 2021, 13:40 | Updated: 20 April 2021, 18:46

Police put in place a security operation after the explosive was discovered
Police put in place a security operation after the explosive was discovered. Picture: PA

By Will Taylor

A bomb planted at a police officer's car in Northern Ireland was designed to cause a fireball.

The New IRA has been blamed by police for planting the device, left beside where their target's three-year-old daughter sits.

The explosive, which was left at the part-time Police Service of Northern Ireland officer's home near Dungiven, Co Londonderry, was attached to a container of flammable liquid.

It did not detonate.

Police Service of Northern Ireland Assistant Chief Constable Mark McEwan branded the murder bid by the dissident extremists as "despicable and cowardly".

Read more: Police in Northern Ireland attacked with stones after call to suspicious object

He said the child's seat was in the car and the terror group would have been aware of it.

"We will be unrelenting in our efforts in bringing these people to justice," he said.

"We believe this group would have known this is where the daughter would sit and they have shown no regard for this whatsoever.

"They know the effect if this device donated, it would have engulfed the car completely and those in it.

Read more: Furniture set alight as unrest breaks out again in west Belfast

"It's time for people to examine their conscience.

"Is this the sort of group they want to support? A group that has shown complete disregard for young people and now we have another callous attack where a mother and a toddler were the potential victims."

The New IRA is one of the most active dissident republican terror groups in Northern Ireland, and was blamed for journalist Lyra McKee's murder in Derry in 2019.

Northern Ireland has seen rising tensions and violence in recent weeks
Northern Ireland has seen rising tensions and violence in recent weeks. Picture: Artur Widak/NurPhoto/PA Images

The group, which was founded in 2012, was also blamed for a large car bomb at the courthouse in Derry in January 2019, and for sending parcel bombs to Great Britain two months later.

Their alleged target is a member of PSNI civilian staff, who serves as a part time officer.

The device was discovered on Monday in a plot condemned by Chief Constable Simon Byrne as an "outrageous attack".

It comes against a backdrop of ongoing disorder and tensions across Northern Ireland's communities.

Northern Ireland's First Minister Arlene Foster said: "I stand, as does my entire party, with the brave woman targeted by republicans and utterly condemn those who have sought to harm her and her family.

"I do give thanks that she has survived this dreadful murder attempt and when I spoke to this lady earlier, I gave her my prayerful support and indeed solidarity at this difficult time.

"To the republicans who sought to murder this young mother, your campaign is futile, you will never succeed and whilst there may always be different political views in Northern Ireland, we will keep moving forward and we will not be dragged back by bombers or those who would seek to use the gun to get their own political way."

Deputy First Minister Michelle O'Neill said she also spoke with the officer, adding that the "magnitude of what could have happened to both herself and her young family" is still "sinking in".

She described the attack as "absolutely deplorable, unacceptable, unjustified and completely wrong", and said all must "stand together to condemn it".

"That was the message I wanted to give to the chief constable, but also to those people that are responsible, they need to leave the stage, there is no room for you in society, you are not going to drag people back.

"What we need to see today is strong condemnation from everybody which, I believe, is the case," she added.