A failed show of strength in Derry last month was intended to signal the arrival of the ‘new IRA’, a West Belfast republican source has told the Andersonstown News. The PSNI seized a number of replica weapons in the operation. Three men were arrested but later released.
Last week a statement was released to the press stating that the Real IRA, the Derry-based Republican Action Against Drugs (RAAD) and a group who previously went without a name but were known in republican circles as ‘the Independents’ had merged under the banner of the IRA. Significantly, óglaigh na héireann (ONH) and the Continuity IRA were left out of the new organisation.
Local republicans say they aren’t surprised by the development but doubt the new group’s ability to act effectively.
Our source told us: “The relationship between these groups has been developing for a year, so this comes as no surprise. ONH weren’t asked to get involved because there are disputes and counter-accusations as to who is a British agent in both camps. There was no expectation that ONH would be asked to be part of the new organisation. For their part, the Continuity IRA and Republican Sinn Féin have no relationship with any other group.”
Another republican source said that a supposed RAAD show of strength in Derry in July was meant to announce the merger of the three organisations.
“The PSNI disrupted the show of strength and replica weapons were seized. That’s why last week they went to the press with their low-key announcement,” he said.
“There are many people within republican circles who see this new manifestation of the IRA as trying to destroy the brand name of the IRA. It’s a counter-insurgency strategy by the British Government. All these groups are interested in is attacking Sinn Féin.
“If anyone was to think that bringing these groups together strengthens the organisation then they don’t know what they are talking about. That’s a myth. It will be a security nightmare for those within the organisation. There will be a lot of distrust and paranoia and that’s not to mention the competing egos.”
Meanwhile, the PSNI investigating a reported mortar attack on police officers closed a section of the Glen Road yesterday morning (Wednesday) to carry out searches. The attack took place last Friday morning during which a shot may have been fired at officers.
Editorial, page 21