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'Real IRA' call Herald in gang kill threat

A GROUP claiming to be the Real IRA has threatened to kill members of a Dublin drug gang unless a disappeared man's body is returned to his family.

The chilling threat was made in a call to the Herald by an individual, using a code word, who warned that unnamed individuals would be killed unless the remains of missing Paul Byrne (20) are returned to his family.

Mr Byrne, from Tallaght, is officially listed as missing since last July but his family believe that he was murdered and his body dumped. His partner is expecting to give birth to his child shortly.

The Herald was contacted yesterday by a caller who threatened "swift and resolute action" against the alleged killers of the missing Tallaght youth unless his body is produced.

The call follows a statement 48 hours earlier by a group, also claiming to represent the Real IRA, who said it was responsible for the murder of Gerard 'Topper' Staunton in Cork last Wednesday.

Garda Commissioner Fachtna Murphy said that the force was taking that statement "seriously".

The call to the Herald is likely to launch a parallel investigation in the capital.

The statement on Paul Byrne's disappearance, stated: "We call for the immediate return of the body of Paul Byrne who was senselessly murdered by criminal elements."