Irish republican dissidents behind a string of bomb attacks in Northern Ireland are targeting the Conservative Party conference which takes place in Birmingham this autumn, an MP has warned.
Ex-soldier Patrick Mercer said former colleagues had told him several groups wanted to “catapult themselves into the headlines” by targeting the mainland, with the October conference being held at the ICC as a prize target.
The warning comes amid a recent upsurge of violence and bomb incidents, including outside police stations and against security force personnel.
Mr Mercer, former chairman of the Commons subcommittee on counter-terrorism, said: “Over the last three or four weeks there have been several very determined efforts to kill in Northern Ireland.
“There are three groups in Northern Ireland which are planning to do something to catapult themselves into the headlines before the party conference season.
“They wish to kill by the end of the month.
“They have an aspiration to attack targets on the mainland, including the Conservative Party conference.”
The MP, who served in Northern Ireland, said the intelligence came from people he used to serve with.
Asked how likely an attack was at the conference in Birmingham, Mr Mercer added: “I don’t believe these groups are capable of carrying out attacks on the mainland at the moment, but they would like to.”
In March last year a terror strike on a British army base claimed the life of Sapper Mark Quinsey, from Highters Heath, Birmingham.
The 23-year-old was shot dead by the Real IRA outside Masserene Barracks in Antrim as he went to collect a pizza delivery.
West Midlands Police said it was aware of increased activity by dissident republicans and said its counter-terrorism unit was constantly assessing the threat ahead of the Conservative party conference.