CIRA has been active in Wattlebridge area in recent years. This image purporting to be the CIRA on the Cavan-Fermanagh border were circulated online in May 2020.

CIRA claims to have fired shots on a PSNI helicopter

ATTACK No reports of shots and no damage to helicopter insist PSNI

The PSNI is casting doubt on the claims of dissident republicans that they fired on on a police helicopter during a security alert on the Cavan-Fermanagh border this week.

PSNI carried out a search on Wednesday and Thursday, January 13-14 in the Wattlebridge Road area of Newtownbutler after reports of a suspect device.

The Continuity IRA yesterday claimed they called in the alert to lure PSNI officers to the scene and then fired shots at a police helicopter on Thursday.

A similar tactic was used by the paramilitaries 2019 when they left a hoax device in Wattlebridge to bring security forces into the area and then exploded a real bomb. There were no injuries in the attack.

Alison Morris of The Irish News broke the news of the CIRA's claims on Friday. The dissident republicans also claimed that the PSNI helicopter was forced to take evasive action.

After announcing the security alert on Wednesday, the PSNI didn't provide any more updates on the status of the operation. The Anglo-Celt had sought an update from the PSNI on the security alert on Friday morning, but had received no response.

On Friday night the PSNI issued a statement in response to the CIRA's claims.

Fermanagh and Omagh District Commander Superintendent Alywin Barton said: “I can confirm that no police aircraft, deployed in the area, was required to take evasive action and that, to date, we have received no reports of shots being heard or fired in the area. I can also confirm that no police aircraft sustained any damage.

“If there is any truth to this claim then the criminals behind it have shown nothing but a reckless disregard for the community in Fermanagh. I unequivocally condemn the actions of those who attempt to damage our communities with their criminal actions and claims and seek to disrupt policing and the daily lives of law abiding citizens.

“We have been working closely with the local community during our investigation and our enquiries will continue.

“I continue to appeal to members of the public living in, or travelling through the area to be vigilant, do not touch any suspicious objects and report any suspicious activity or object to us immediately on 999.”