IMC concern at dissident republican threat in Kerry

SIMON BROUDER sbrouder@kerryman.ie

THE group set up to monitor the activities of paramilitary organisations in Northern Ireland has raised serious concerns about the activities of dissident republicans in the Kerry region.

In its latest report the Independent Monitoring Commission (IMC) says the Real IRA and Continuity IRA organisations have established southern strongholds in Limerick, Cork and Kerry and have a significant presence in southwest Munster.

The Continuity IRA is widely acknowledged as the military wing of Republican Sinn Fein and has been increasingly active in Kerry in recent years.

In January 2008 A CIRA unit was photographed firing a volley of shots over the grave of ex-RSF President Dan Keating at Kiltallagh Cemetery, in Castlemaine. The demonstration was carried out in order to coincide with what would have been his 106th birthday.

Last summer the group issued a warning that it considered British soldiers holidaying in Ireland, and specifically in Kerry, as legitimate targets.

In a statement sent to The Kerryman CIRA said they regarded any member of the British army or security services on leave in Ireland as a legitimate target. The statement, which made specific mention of Kerry, said the terrorist group intended "intensifying its campaign of resistance in the coming months."

The IMC report said the groups have increased their activities and are actively recruiting and training mainly young men with no terrorist experience.

The report covers the activities of paramilitary organisations during the period September 2009 to February of this year. According to the IMC, their criminal activities include robbery, kidnapping, extortion and instigating public disorder.

There has been speculation that the dissidents may have at least one former IRA bomb-maker working for them and the IMC report says some former republicans may be providing assistance.

While the report sounds warnings about the situation, it says it is in no way a reappearance of something comparable to the Provisional IRA campaign.

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