A dissident republican grouping which says it will target security forces and drug dealers “will dwindle and die or they will end up in jail”.
Ulster Unionist MLA Doug Beattie was scathing in his criticism of the outfit, which is calling itself the Irish Republican Movement (IRM).
In a statement issued to the Irish News, the group threatened to “actively target Crown forces” involved in policing republican commemorations.
However, the PSNI said the group is “not new” and was in fact was formed under a different name several months ago as part of an apparent falling out with another faction.
The group, which the Irish News reported is made up “mainly of disgruntled members of Oglaigh na hEireann”, also said in the statement that “the penalty is death” for anyone selling drugs within nationalist communities.
The newspaper also reported that the group appears to have access to automatic rifles and other weaponry.
Mr Beattie said: “Here is another iteration of people who simply cannot move forward whatsoever. They call themselves the republicans so they are some iteration of the IRA from some bygone era.”
Mr Beattie said he is convinced the group has no support from the community.
“I am in no doubt whatsoever that the people do not want them,” he said. “They have got no support whatsoever.
“What I see when I look at them with their weaponry is the whole sum of what they are – five men and a few weapons trying to big themselves up.
“But they have no support whatsoever and they will dwindle and die or they will end up in jail. It is as simple as that.”
The UUP spokesperson on justice added: “We should view them with absolute contempt because they are contemptible. They can say they are going to target ‘Crown forces’ if they so wish. Republicans have been doing it for years and have achieved nothing.
“They can say that they’re going to target people who are dealing in drugs but normally what they’re saying is they want to control the drugs trade. And the people shouldn’t be fooled by them. They’re yesterday’s men and should be treated as such.”
The dissident republican grouping was also condemned by the Sinn Fein MLA Gerry Kelly, who said the fact that yet another name has been added to the roster of dissident groups simply goes to show the lack of “any cohesion, strategy, support or credibility within dissident republican circles.”
In a statement late last night, PSNI Assistant Chief Constable Stephen Martin said: “This is not a new violent dissident republican group.
“It has existed since September 2017 after splitting from Oglaigh na hEireann (ONH) under the banner of Irish Republican Brotherhood and has simply been renamed as IRM.”
He said that such groups form for a number of reasons, particularly because they are disrupted by the security services, and because “a desire for power amongst the individuals involved” leads to internal divisions.