This past fortnight has seen several further incidents that are thought to be connected to Dissident Republican groups. The first major incident on October 21 saw a viable pipe bomb in Templemore Avenue in east Belfastprompt a controlled demolition by the Army. A more serious incident was reported on October 24, when a pipe bomb was thrown at a PSNI patrol vehicle in Strabane, County Tyrone. The device was thrown at the police Land Rover shortly before 22:00, though failed to detonate on impact. It largely appeared to have been designed to instigate a police search of the area, where a viable device that could be set off with a trip wire was later found in an adjacent garden. However, no officers were injured in the discovery of the device, which was later made safe by bomb disposal experts.
Statistics released in the wake of this latest incident revealed that bomb disposal experts were called out at a rate of once a day from mid-2012-2014, which prompted calls for a dedicated bomb disposal base to speed up reaction times and minimise disruption in the wake of such incidents. The lack of casualties in the vast majority of these incidents – or indeed even any form of physical damage – may suggest a degree of failure on behalf of the Dissident Republicans responsible for organising and executing the attacks. However, the drain on police resources that such incidents inevitably inflict play a significant part in their strategy. Crucially, they seek to alienate the PSNI from the communities in which they operate, creating a judicial vacuum in which the Dissident Republicans can exploit, subsequently boosting their recruitment, funding, and operational capabilities. Contrarily, any negligence on behalf of the police – perhaps in refusing to attend to the significant proportion of hoaxes – could then in turn be exploited by groups such as Oglaigh na hEireann and the New IRA. Though casualties on PSNI officers remain a target of the various outfits still in operation, this secondary objective still represent a substantial and oft-neglected motive for their activity.