Sinn Fein ‘targeted by Crossmaglen poster bomb’

Forensics officers at the scene of Wednesday's blast
Forensics officers at the scene of Wednesday's blast

A bomb which badly injured a south Armagh man was set by dissident republicans who were targeting mainstream republicans, says local MLA Danny Kennedy.

A booby-trapped poster at the Blaney and Corliss Roads, Crossmaglen, detonated on Wednesday, seriously injuring a local man.

Sinn Fein’s Martin McGuinness and Gerry Adams both issued party statements expressing sympathy for the victim, whom they named as Frank McCabe Jr, strongly condemning those responsible.

Peter Robinson and Mr McGuinness also issued a joint statement as First and Deputy First Minister.

“This was a cowardly and sickening attack on Francis McCabe Jr, and we extend our best wishes to him and hope he has a full and speedy recovery,” they said.

Local UUP MLA Mr Kennedy told the News Letter: “It is mainstream republicans versus dissident republicans now. Apparently well-known republicans close to Sinn Fein are being called touts and traitors.”

The injured man was trying to remove a poster in defence of his family, he added.

South Armagh victims’ campaigner Willie Frazer said: “What has happened is that two factions had fallen out with each other.”

He said Sinn Fein were now trying to “clean up” criminality but that republicans had “created the monster in the first place”.

Mr McGuinness described the bombing as “an attack on the peace process”.

He added: “Yesterday’s attack has followed a campaign of intimidation in the south Armagh area against people in the community who have taken huge personal risks advocating accountable policing with the community”.

Sinn Fein president Mr Adams said there has been “a serious escalation in the activities of organised criminal gangs in north Louth and south Armagh in recent years”.

During a farmers’ meeting in Clady, Co Armagh on Thursday their party colleague, Agriculture Minister Michelle O’Neill, also condemned the bomb attack by “an organised criminal gang”.

SDLP representative Justin McNulty said there was “no place for lynch law in south Armagh”, while DUP MLA Willie Irwin said it was clear that there were “tensions within republicanism in this area”.