Had a dissident republican bomb exploded on ferry to Scotland, it could have created a fireball engulfing men, women and children, an MLA has claimed.
Former soldier and Ulster Unionist Party Justice spokesperson Doug Beattie MC called on the UK Government to ensure that the republicans behind the attempt to plant a bomb on a ferry from Northern Ireland to Scotland are hunted down and jailed as a matter of National Security.
The bomb was found attached to a lorry at Silverwood Industrial Park in Lurgan on Tuesday evening. PSNI officers had been tipped off on Friday (Brexit Day) that an explosive device may have been attached to a truck heading to Scotland on the ferry.
Police officers searched around 400 trucks over four days before the device was found.
Mr Beattie described the latest news as having a 'very sinister twist'.
"This was no minor device, this was a very deliberate attempt to cause an explosion on a ferry, and given the inherent instability of these devices, it could easily have detonated in the lorry’s yard, on the M1, in the middle of Belfast or on a ferry itself in the middle of the Irish Sea.
“Without a doubt it was an attempt to isolate Northern Ireland from the rest of Great Britain by creating a threat to on-board ferry traffic. Had it exploded on the ferry it could have created a fireball that would have taken the route of least resistance and spread through open spaces, walkways and corridors to engulf anyone in its path be they men, women or children. Had this been on a ferry from Dover to Calais the UK Government would be mobilising every asset possible to track down the perpetrators; I call on them to do so with this, and treat it as the National Security threat which it is.
“We are dealing with people here who do not give a damn about the safety of anyone else. These are the type of fascists who bombed Omagh and who have taken their cue from those who organised the Bloody Friday, La Mon and Enniskillen bombings.
“It is clear that violent republicans do not care for the people of Northern Ireland regardless of what community they come from. They are sadistic, career terrorists who need to be locked up for a very long time.”
SDLP Policing Board member Dolores Kelly MLA condemned those responsible for a Brexit Day bomb plot which she says was designed to cause maximum devastation and murder.
She said: “I want to pay tribute to the PSNI for their work to secure this device. Officers continue to put themselves in harm’s way to protect our communities from the serious threat posed by violent dissident republicans.
“Those behind this plot were intent on causing maximum devastation and killing innocent people. We cannot become complacent about the threat that dissident republicans pose and their desire to kill people in our communities in the pursuit of an outdated ideology that has been rejected by the people of Ireland.
“If anyone has information about this attempted bombing, I would encourage them to come forward to police as soon as possible. It is vital that we bring these criminal gangs to justice before they kill someone else.”