A new dissent Republican group may be forming in Northern Ireland, the London Times reported today. The organization would include dissidents that have defected from the Continuity IRA (CIRA) and the Real IRA.
The group will not have a name, with the deliberate aim of confusing members of the security forces. It has not yet formally announced its existence but may do so in the New Year.
The group is apparently selecting as members only those who have already proven themselves by participating in terrorist attacks or in other hardline activities.
“This group is highly secretive and paranoid about informants and their identities being revealed,” a Republican source told the London Times. “They are serious operators who know what’s involved in running a [terrorist] campaign. They’ve done it before.”
A source from the security forces said they are struggling to keep up with activity, according to the Times.
“The main players are under surveillance but there is so much activity it’s almost impossible to decipher what is happening,” the source said. “They are meeting and planning the whole time. Dissidents from different factions are meeting each other and hardliners from the IRA, who have drifted away from them and Sinn Fein.”
The source added, “The dissidents have the capacity to kill and bomb, but not in a sustainable way.”
Some republicans are clear about their dissatisfaction with Sinn Fein and the status quo. A spokesman for a website called the Republican Network for Unity, Kevin McQuillan, told the Times, “I think the turning point amongst the armed groups, ironically enough, happened in March when Martin McGuinness called the republicans who attacked Massereene ‘traitors’. The use of that terminology by an iconic republican figure shocked us.”
In a statement from March on the Republican Network for Unity site, RNU National Chairperson Danny Mc Brearty said that if the Good Friday Agreement did not undergo review, dissent would continue.
“The use of emotive language, total ‘condemnation’ and calls for the vigorous pursuit of ‘criminals’ – is not only ineffective … This will achieve nothing other than to breed resistance.
“What the Republican Network for Unity would say is needed is an end to these thunderous calls for severe repression and imprisonment. A comprehensive review, to give a measured, in depth look at the failed project known as the Good Friday Agreement."
The statement continues: "Until such an exploration is conducted …. there will remain those who feel that the only avenue open to them is to pursue the aims and objectives of British disengagement and the re-unification of our country through the use of armed struggle.”