The sentence passed on the Irish republican would-be murdering terrorist Sean McVeigh yesterday is very welcome.
McVeigh, of Victoria Gardens in Lurgan, was sentenced to 25 years for planting a bomb under a police officer’s car in Eglinton, Co Londonderry.
The jail term is by no means harsh. Aged 38, he might be free at 50, and at liberty to plot murder again. If his project had succeeded, a PSNI officer would have been blown up.
But at least the sentence handed down does not fall into the category of chronically weak sentences that have sometimes been applied for serious dissident terrorists offences. In 2017, the News Letter highlighted a number of paltry sentences handed out to dangerous dissidents, the most unacceptable of which was the suspended sentence given to a man for being part of a bomb plot.
This newspaper has also examined the lenient bail policy that applies in serious terror cases in Northern Ireland.
Such a light approach to bail and sentencing must make dissidents think that there is no will to confront them.
At any moment a PSNI officer could be killed or a bomb could kill civilians, as might have happened in Londonderry recently when young people walked past a car bomb. An atrocity could then be followed by claims that the police could have prevented it, such is the speed with which some people blame police for everything. We are fortunate officers ignore such ingratitude and do their duty every day.