MI5 strengthens counter-terrorism force after Northern Ireland killings

MI5 is sending more staff with Irish counter-terrorism backgrounds to work at its headquarters in Holywood, County Down.

The move comes after Northern Ireland security officials admitted there was a gap in their knowledge of the personnel and resources of dissident republican groups.

According to the Times, the government will increase the proportion of the budget spent on defeating Irish terrorist activities to meet the growing threat from the Real IRA and Continuity IRA, which claimed responsibility for killing two soldiers and a police officer in two separate attacks.

The current annual budget spent on counter-terrorist activities is thought to be about £300m, with 15% spent on operations against Irish terrorists.

Irish dissident groups have mounted 18 gun and bomb attacks since the beginning of last year. The troops were the first British soldiers to be killed in Northern Ireland in 12 years, the Ministry of Defence confirmed.

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