THE DUP is calling for the Ministry of Defence to base a bomb disposal team in the North West to help counter the ongoing threat from dissident republicanism.
The party says the public is being left exposed because of the time it takes for Army bomb experts to get to travel from the Greater Belfast area.
The bomb squad was called to nearly 200 incidents during the past year – most of them in the north and west.
East Derry MP Gregory Campbell, who is leading the calls, says it can take up to two hours for the ATO leave its base in Holywood, Co Down to travel over the Glenshane Pass to get to the since of an alert in Derry.
He says that is putting the lives of the local community in danger.
“A high number of terrorist attacks carried out by dissident republicans have occurred in the north west area since 2009 particularly around Derry and the border area,” said Mr Campbell.
“There is a logistical issue regarding the time taken for the bomb disposal unit to reach the scene, this often means where a device hasn’t exploded, homes being evacuated and people having to move temporarily to a place of safety until the device can be defused.
“Consideration should be given to having a secure base for an Army bomb disposal unit in the north west to respond speedily to potential bomb attacks.”
Over the past year police and the ATO have had to deal with a number of incidents along with ongoing shootings by dissident republicans.
In one incident the Ardenlee area of the city, a device under a policeman’s car partially exploded as ATO approached the vehicle parked in the driveway.
A spokesman for the Ministry of Defence said they could not comment on operational matters.
He said: “We provide a service as required forth Police Service of Northern Ireland and any other emergency agencies if required.”