New year marked by dissident republican threat of terror attacks

Police officers walk past Continuity IRA graffiti on a wall in the Lurgan area in 2009
Police officers walk past Continuity IRA graffiti on a wall in the Lurgan area in 2009

A sinister new year threat against “forces of the British presence” in Northern Ireland has been issued by a group claiming to speak on behalf of the Continuity IRA (CIRA).

In a statement posted online on January 1, Continuity Sinn Fein said a “process of recruitment, education and training is on-going” and that “the results will become clear in the coming months”.

The CIRA dissident republican grouping has been responsible for a number of terrorist attacks since the paramilitary ceasefires in the mid-1990s, including car bombs in Moira and Portadown, an explosion at the Killyhevlin hotel in Enniskillen and the 2009 murder of Constable Stephen Carroll in Craigavon.

However, in June 2017 a statement said to have been issued by CIRA claimed the organisation was ending its “futile” armed campaign. This claim was never fully verified and it was not clear if it related to CIRA in its entirety or a splinter group.

The previous year CIRA, using a recognised codeword, claimed responsibility for the murder of David Byrne at a boxing weigh-in at a Dublin hotel. Within hours, another statement issued to the media said the claim of CIRA responsibility had not been authorised by the CIRA leadership.

Further evidence of turmoil within the grouping has emerged as a result of disputes over the acceptance or otherwise of certain prisoners onto the dissident republican wing of Maghaberry prison.

The Continuity IRA and Republican Sinn Fein were formed in 1986 in response to the Gerry Adams-led Sinn Fein decision to take seats in the Dail.

In November 2014, police raided a house in Newry’s Ardcarn Park and arrested 12 men suspected of planning CIRA terror attacks. During subsequent court hearings it was revealed that MI5 had been monitoring the property for almost four months – covertly recording around 70 hours of audio.

The group calling itself Continuity Sinn Fein began posting messages on Facebook in August 2015. In its latest message it states that “there will be no CIRA ceasefire” and that “military operations against the forces of the British presence will be intensified”.

It goes on to say: “The CIRA give warning that there is no safe haven for those who administer and support the British presence in the occupied six counties.”

The PSNI has declined to comment on the threatening message.