Monday 19 August 2019

Tom Brady: 'New IRA poses biggest terrorist threat to our security in years'

  

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Tom Brady

Tom Brady

The New IRA 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.

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 gardaí and the PSNI of the existing dissident groups.

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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.

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. 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.

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.

The threat level from the dissidents in Northern Ireland is currently put at severe, which is the second-highest level.

Irish Independent

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