Extortion gang beats farmer
So-called 'dissident' republicans are carrying out a brutal extortion racket along the Border area between Louth and south Armagh.
The gang, who are involved in various forms of criminal activity, are responsible for at least one vicious assault this month, in which a young man was stabbed and suffered bone fractures in an attack by three members of one of the notorious gangs using the cover-name, 'Real IRA'.
Their victim, Kevin Conlon, has called for greater security along the Border, saying that "people shouldn't have to put up with this carry-on".
Mr Conlon had stopped to attend cattle on his land near Cullaville on the Armagh-Louth Border on the evening of June 9, when he was attacked by a three-man gang.
"I don't think they were intending to target me as I was only there by chance. They must have been passing by chance and saw me going to look at the cattle. They must have seen me from the road.
"Two of them came into the field and this fellow stabbed me three or four times. Then they hit me with a Stillson wrench. They broke a bone in my face and in my left leg and my arm was broken.
"They were round here last Halloween demanding money, but I wouldn't give them anything. I was expecting an attack then, but it never came. I think they were on their way to do someone else and just saw me from the road and came at me.
"It shook me up and I'm battered and bruised, but I won't be giving them anything.
"People shouldn't have to be living with a nuisance like this when they're trying to get on with their lives here."
Mr Conlon runs a motor-parts business and is a small farmer currently building a home for himself, his partner and their young child. Local people said Mr Conlon is highly thought of as a hard-working, 'decent' young man and that there is outrage over the attack.
The attack has been reported to the gardai who are investigating
It is understood the suspects are well-known to gardai and that they had previously been linked to the 'Real IRA' group based in Dundalk and north Louth.
However, the dissident terror group has been largely broken up by Special Branch and local garda and PSNI actions in recent years.
It is believed, however, that the residual elements of the group, which broke away from the Provisional IRA in 1997, are still involved in criminal activity around the Border.