PSNI officer reiterates belief NRA shot off-duty detective John Caldwell in Omagh – The Irish Times | Pro IQRA News

PSNI officer reiterates belief NRA shot off-duty detective John Caldwell in Omagh – The Irish Times

 | Pro IQRA News

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A senior police officer has reiterated his belief that the new Republican dissident IRA carried out an armed attack on an off-duty detective in Northern Ireland.

Assistant Chief Constable Mark McEwan made the remarks to the Northern Ireland Police Council after being questioned about possible Loyalist involvement in the attack on Chief Detective John Caldwell.

Mr Caldwell was hit multiple times in Omagh last week and remains in critical condition in hospital. The police made a number of arrests and three men remain in detention.

Sinn Fein board member Gerry Kelly asked Mr McEwan for an update on the investigation.

Mr Kelly said it was “a little confusing” as there were reports of arrests in the nationalist/Republican community as well as unionists/loyalists.

Mr McEwan said: “We know there has been speculation about a motive for the shooting because of the community background of some of the people arrested.

“We are very clear that this continues to be assessed as an attack by the New IRA and this is where the primary focus of the investigation is.”

Mr Kelly said he believed four of the people arrested were from a loyalist background and asked if there was a loyalist connection to the shooting.

McEwan said people should not be “confused” with titles such as loyalty.

He added: “We still assess that this was an attack carried out by the New IRA who have stated very clearly that they wish to carry out attacks on police officers and John was the target on this occasion.”

Chief Constable Simon Byrne thanked the board members and the public for their messages of support, which he said had been passed on to Mr Caldwell’s immediate family.

Post-Brexit deal turmoil

Meanwhile, police in Northern Ireland have the resources to deal with any loyalist unrest in the wake of a post-Brexit New Deal, PSNI Chief Constable Simon Byrne said.

Byrne told the Police Board his assessment is that Loyalty “remains quiet” after the Windsor Framework was revealed earlier this week.

He was questioned about a newspaper report on Sunday which suggested loyalist paramilitaries could cause widespread unrest if no deal between the EU and the UK causes the so-called Irish Sea border to be scrapped.

The Windsor Framework was announced on Monday in an effort to remove post-Brexit trade barriers, creating a new order for goods to flow into Northern Ireland.

In late 2021, two buses in loyalist areas are hijacked and burned amid rising tensions over opposition to the Northern Ireland Protocol.

Mr Byrne said: “There have been some questions raised in the margins about revisions to protocol arrangements and the impact this has on loyalty.

“For now, in the midst of everything else, we appreciate that Loyalty remains quiet in terms of chatter, but we will keep that perspective under clear and careful review.”

Ulster Unionist board member Mike Nesbitt has expressed solidarity with Detective Chief Inspector John Caldwell, who was killed last week in an attack blamed on opposition Republicans.

He said: “The people I have no sympathy with are the UVF thugs who apparently threatened to destroy the place if they didn’t get what they wanted.

“I would appreciate it if you would assure us that you have the capacity to deal with this threat and also your assessment as to whether this threat is anything more than empty words.”

The chief of police said: “We have the resource at the moment if we go to a different place in terms of protest or chaos, God forbid.

“We don’t pick up on any conversation or anything in terms of planning that would raise our concerns in terms of reacting to the way it was reported that ‘we’re going to burn the place down’, as has happened in the media from that part of society.

“We’re watching as actively as we can. Suffice it to say for now things are staying calm.”