Dissident republicans in Northern Ireland are suspected of trying to blow up an Irish Sea ferry on Brexit day last week, after a bomb was found on a lorry following two tip-offs.
The discovery of the device came after the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) was told of a possible bomb on a lorry in Belfast docks bound for Scotland last Friday and another report on Monday naming a haulage company the lorry belonged to.
After a search of 400 lorries, a device was found on an industrial estate in Lurgan, County Armagh, the PSNI announced on Thursday.
It was made safe by army bomb disposal officers. The ferry safely crossed the Irish Sea, according to the PSNI, but police did not say which ferry was targeted.
Det Supt Sean Wright, from the PSNI’s terrorism investigation unit, said: “It is clear from the information available to police that dissident republicans deliberately and recklessly attached an explosive device to a heavy goods vehicle in the full knowledge and expectation that it would put the driver of that vehicle, road users and the wider public at serious risk of injury and possible death.”
He added: “Had this vehicle travelled and the device had exploded at any point along the M1, across the Westlink or into the harbour estate, the risks posed do not bear thinking about.
“The only conclusion that we can draw is that once again dissident republicans have shown a total disregard for the community, for businesses and for wider society.”
Wright said he wanted to hear from anyone who noticed any suspicious activity in the industrial estate between 4pm and 10pm on 31 January, the day the UK left the EU.
“In addition I ask that anyone who was driving in the area and who would have dashcam footage around these same times that they contact police, as a matter of urgency,” he said.
The PSNI was due to give more details at a press conference later on Thursday.