New IRA: We are a small core and are not interested in being popular

The scene of the riot at which Lyra McKee was shot
The scene of the riot at which Lyra McKee was shot
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The leaders of dissident paramilitary group ‘the New IRA’ are “not interested in being popular”, according to an interview published yesterday.

The Sunday Times carried the comments on its front page after an interview with unnamed “representatives from the group’s army council”.

It had taken “months to arrange” said the newspaper, meaning moves were under way to set it up long before the murder by the group of journalist Lyra McKee on April 18.

The interview itself was done after the shooting.

In the wake of her killing there was an enormous backlash against the violent dissident republican campaign, with a wave of people from the republican-dominated Creggan area of Londonderry (where the murder took place) coming forward to help the police and staging public displays of opposition.

The interview contained the following quotes, attributed to a ‘dissident leader’: “Condemning the IRA is nothing new. We are not interested in being popular.

“Republicanism has always been a small core of people.”

It also quotes one interviewee as reiterating that the fatal shooting was “unintentional” but that “there is nothing we can say that will not sound like a hollow apology”.

The interview also contains a brief mention of Brexit, quoting one man as saying: “Brexit has forced the IRA to refocus and has underlined how Ireland remains partitioned. It would be remiss of us not to capitalise on that.”

This appears to contradict an earlier pronouncement from the same group.

The same group is thought to have been responsible for the large car bomb placed outside Londonderry’s courthouse in January.

A statement issued the week after that bombing (claiming it as being the work of “the IRA”) said: “All this talk of Brexit, hard borders, soft borders has no bearing on our actions and the IRA won’t be going anywhere. Our fight goes on.”