Northern Ireland police confirm leaked data is in hands of dissident republicans

Northern Ireland police confirm leaked data is in hands of dissident republicans

‘It is now a planning assumption that they will use this list to generate fear and uncertainty as well as intimidating or targeting officers and staff,’ says Simon Byrne

By Burak Bir

LONDON (AA) - Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) Chief Constable Simon Byrne confirmed Monday that information mistakenly released in a major breach of police data is in the hands of dissident republicans.

"It is now a planning assumption that they will use this list to generate fear and uncertainty as well as intimidating or targeting officers and staff," said Byrne, speaking at a news conference.

The breach, a result of "human error," occurred when the PSNI responded to a Freedom of Information request and mistakenly released a spreadsheet that included the last names and first initials of 10,000 PSNI employees.

It also includes their ranks or grades, where they are based, and the units in which they work.

Following the incident, Liam Kelly, chair of the Police Federation for Northern Ireland (PFNI), described the breach as "monumental."

"I won’t go into detail for operational reasons, but we are working round the clock to assess the risk and take measures to mitigate it," added Byrne.

Byrne said last week that an "early worst-case scenario that we have been dealing with is that third parties would attempt to get this data, to intimidate, corrupt, or indeed cause harm to our officers and staff."

The Sinn Fein party said a leaked PSNI document posted early Monday on a wall facing its office on Falls Road in Belfast is in attempt to intimidate.

The current threat level to Northern Ireland from Northern Ireland related terrorism is "severe," meaning "an attack is highly likely," according to an official chart.

Last year, the threat level was lowered from "severe" to "substantial" for the first time in 12 years but was raised again to severe in March.

A New Year’s message from the Irish dissident group New IRA caused concerns, as it pledged to "use all means at its disposal" to end British rule in Ireland.

"As we enter 2023, Ireland remains under occupation and our national sovereignty is denied by a foreign government," said the Jan. 2 message from the splinter group, which was formed after the disarmament of the Irish Republican Army (IRA).

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