An offshoot of the infamous Irish Republican Army (IRA) plotted to blow up a ferry full of people on Brexit night.
The Continuity IRA (CIRA) admitted that it had loaded a bomb on a lorry and was intending to put the vehicle on a ferry that was bound for Scotland the night that the United Kingdom finally left the European Union (EU).
On Friday, January 31, someone tipped a media outlet about the bomb lorry and CIRA’s intentions to load it into a ferry crossing the Irish Sea from Belfast to Scotland. After a thorough search, the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) didn’t find anything, though. However, on Monday, February 3, there was another call. The Northern Ireland police launched an intensive search operation, examining over 400 vehicles. Finally, they found the bomb truck in Silverwood industrial estate in Lurgan. An Army Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) was called in to defuse the bomb.
According to PSNI Assistant Chief Constable, the bomb lorry “could have caused death and very serious injury and harm to members of the public. Those who planted this device were reckless or intended to cause that level of harm.”
The explosive device was discovered after police searches on the Silverwood industrial estate in Lurgan, County Armagh.
The PSNI released a picture of the explosive device.
Detective Superintendent Sean Wright said about the pictures that “these images clearly show the explosive device attached to the lorry. They also demonstrate the sheer recklessness of those who knowingly put the driver, road users and the wider public at risk of death or serious injury.”
And yet it seems that the CIRA terrorists were trying to make a statement without actually going forward with the attack — the calls to the police support this.
“The plan was no different, although far smaller in scale than the way the Provisional IRA smuggled the huge bomb that devastated Canary Wharf in 1996,” added Detective Superintendent Wright. “There is no way republicans were planning to explode a bomb on a ferry.”
Historically, the United Kingdom Special Forces (UKSF) have been quite active in Northern Ireland going back to the Troubles (1968-1998). Special Air Service (SAS), Special Boat Service (SBS), and Special Reconnaissance Regiment (SRR) operators completed numerous tours in Northern Ireland, running some hairy undercover operations.
You can read more about their clandestine activities here.