Sunday 19 May 2019

Tom Brady: 'New IRA poses biggest terrorist threat on island of Ireland'

Journalist Lyra McKee died after being shot on Thursday (Family handout/PA)
Journalist Lyra McKee died after being shot on Thursday (Family handout/PA)
Tom Brady

Tom Brady

The New IRA, which has been blamed by for the murder of journalist Lyra McKee, is assessed by Garda intelligence and the PSNI as posing the biggest terrorist threat on the island of Ireland since the Provisional IRA.

The group, which has around 50 activists and another 200 logistical supporters operating on this side of the Border, has a stronghold in Derry, where last night's fatal shooting and rioting took place.

The New IRA was formed in 2012, following an alliance of former factions of the Real IRA, the Derry based Republican Action Against Drugs (RAAD), and republicans elsewhere, who had largely remained unaligned up to then because of the level of infiltration by the gardai and the PSNI of the existing dissident groups.

The Real IRA had been highly active in the Derry-Donegal region and had formed links with the organisation's section in Dublin when it was led by Alan Ryan.

Lyra McKee
Lyra McKee

Ryan's murder was followed by a shake-up in the Real IRA in the capital and the reformed group taken under the control of Tallaght based Kevin Braney before it merged into the New IRA.

A murder sentence of life imprisonment, imposed on Braney by the Special Criminal Court in February, dealt a major blow to the New IRA as he had been regarded by anti-terrorist officers as its most important figure on this side of the Border.

Most of its terrorist members here are located in the Border counties and in Dublin with a smaller grouping in Cork.

They are mainly involved in providing logistical support for active units involved in terrorist attacks in the North, supplying explosives and arms as well as vehicles and safe houses while also raising funds through robberies and extortion.

The New IRA is also assessed to be more advanced technologically in developing explosive devices than any of the other IRA renegade groups and has become more skilled at counter surveillance as a result of undergoing training in the Czech Republic, Slovakia and, possibly, Poland.

Since the start of the year the terror group has been planning to exploit the possibility of a hard Brexit by stepping up its campaign in Northern Ireland, with particular focus on security targets.

Lyra McKee
Lyra McKee

The group was responsible for the murder of prison officer, David Black, who was shot dead as he drove to work at Maghaberry prison in 2012, with one of the vehicles used in the attack, supplied by Braney's group in Dublin and handed over near the Border.

It was also blamed for the death of prison officer Adrian Ismay, after a bomb exploded under his van outside his home in Belfast in 2016 and another under-car bomb victim, Constable Ronan Kerr at his home in Omagh in 2011.

Some of its members were also linked to the murders of off-duty British soldiers, Mark Quinsey and Patrick Azimkar as they took delivery of a pizza outside Massereene barracks in Antrim.

Last January the terrorists planted a car bomb outside a courthouse in the centre of Derry city.

It exploded shortly after dozens of people, including a group of teenagers, had passed by the vehicle.  Nobody was injured in the blast.

The New IRA has also been involved in several attempted killings and bombings in recent years and organising punishment beatings, particularly in Belfast.

In the North, it is particularly active in Belfast, Derry as well as Armagh and Tyrone in the Border region.

The threat level from the dissidents in Northern Ireland is currently put at severe, which is the second highest level.  In Britain it is substantial, meaning there is a strong possibility of an attack.

Read more here; 'A woman of talent and commitment' - President Michael D Higgins leads tributes paid to journalist Lyra McKee

Lyra McKee: Woman killed in Derry violence was a 'rising star of investigative journalism'

Dissident republican group the New IRA probably responsible for shooting of journalist in Derry - PSNI

Derry violence: Shots fired at police just hours after Nancy Pelosi praised peace in the city

'Lyra's partner and family are heartbroken' - priest who anointed murdered journalist says 'these are not games'

John Downing: Absence of Derry big political leaders, like Hume and McGuinness, leaves the city with 'a vacuum within a vacuum' 

Online Editors

Editor's Choice

Also in Irish News