A RECENTLY formed alliance of dissident terror groups, including the Dublin-based Real IRA faction formerly led by Alan Ryan, has confirmed that it was responsible for the murder of Northern Ireland prison officer David Black.
Mr Black was shot dead as he drove to work at Maghaberry jail earlier this month.
The group claimed that their attack was connected to a dispute over conditions at the prison.
Immediately after the shooting, anti-terrorist police on both sides of the Border indicated that the new alliance was the prime suspect.
The group includes members of the Real IRA factions in Derry and Dublin, the Derry-based Republican Action Against Drugs and a group of non-aligned dissidents operating around East Tyrone.
In a statement issued to a Belfast newspaper, the alliance said it was the successor of the Provisional IRA, which stood down after the Good Friday peace deal in 1998.
The murder of 52-year-old Mr Black was the fifth fatal attack on a member of the security agencies since then and the first killing of a prison officer in the North in almost 20 years.
Referring to itself as the IRA, it said that one of its units had "executed" Mr Black and that it had a responsibility to protect and defend republican "prisoners of war".
Three men have been arrested by the PSNI in the North and one suspect by the gardai in Carrigallen, Co Leitrim, in connection with the murder, but all were released without charge.
Meanwhile, an extra 1,000 officers should be recruited and the judiciary needs to impose more maximum prison sentences, PSNI chairman Terry Spence said.
Mr Spence said: "Politicians standing shoulder to shoulder after each atrocity is a welcome signal of condemnation and steadfastness but it must lead to concerted action to bring the terrorist campaign to an end.
"Unless we take the serious and effective steps of a policy of zero tolerance, then the economic and political prospects of our new democracy will be worn down by attrition.
"That attrition is the death and serious injury, year in year out, of public servants who have dedicated their lives to the protection of this community."