DISSIDENT Irish republicans planned to mark Brexit Day with a ‘catastrophic loss of life’ by blowing up a ferry, police revealed yesterday.
Members of the Continuity IRA are thought to have planted a bomb in a lorry on an industrial estate in Lurgan, Co. Armagh, which police found after a search of 400 vehicles.
Hours before the UK left the EU last Friday, a warning was phoned through to police about a device hidden on an unidentified truck due to travel ‘on the midnight ferry’ from Belfast to Scotland.
An intensive search failed to find it and the ferry was allowed to sail.
However, a bomb was later discovered on an HGV at the Silverwood Industrial Estate after a further warning was phoned through on Monday.
‘These people are absolutely callous and reckless in what they have done,’ said Asst Ch Con George Clarke.
‘On Friday, we received virtually no information. On Monday we received substantially more.
‘Those who gave us the second call, which led to the device being found, indicated that they intended it to explode at the time the UK left the EU.’
Workers were told to leave the site as police examined lorries on the estate 25 miles south-west of Belfast.
Army bomb disposal experts defused the device, described as ‘viable’ by police. Mr Clarke said the lorry was not thought to have left the yard but the bombers may have believed it was booked on an 11.16pm Stena Line sailing to Cairnryan in Dumfries and Galloway.
DUP leader Arlene Foster said the discovery ‘highlighted once again that there are those in Northern Ireland who still attempt to drag us back into terrorism and violence’. Sinn Féin spokesman Gerry Kelly said: ‘If it had exploded, you are talking about catastrophic loss of life. They need to desist and move away from such actions.’