I saw this article about the renewed threat from the Irish and having been reading British history recently, I thought it was a good time to throw in my two cents on the issue. The British ripped off and oppressed the Irish for centuries. They attempted to colonize their country and as a result a British residue, Northern Ireland, exists as a reminder to the Irish of how long they have been under the British thumb. Anyone who has read history will understand the situation there is the result of long standing gevances, much more long standing than the Palestinian gripe against Israel, although it is a similar intrusion, the result of British mucking around in people’s lives, just as the Pakistan-India division is the result of British interference and the same goes for much of Africa, the legacy of the Empire.
I admire the British for their gall. The were the model for the USA in its imperial endeavors. Always claiming to be acting for the betterment of humanity, when in reality it was for the betterment of the wealthy elites controling policy in Washington.
The British have good reason to fear the Irish. The Irish have good reason to want revenge. Until the British are out of Ireland for good, this will be a festering sore in the side of Ireland and no feel good peace movement will end the aberation of Northern Ireland until it is reunited with the rest of Ireland. Protestants live in the south, they can live in a united Ireland. I am not normally a big fan of nationalism, living in the USA, it is hard to justify any nationalist principals at all. But in a place that has over the centuries maintained its identity, as shredded and deformed as it may be from the British imposition, they deserve to retain what they call their own and then on the basis of equality, accept or refuse what they wish from the rest of the world. Ah if it were only so simple…
New Irish terror groups are threat to UK, warn police
Intelligence officials say dissidents are capable of mounting mainland attack, as fears grow of ‘Easter offensive’ in Ulster
Mark Townsend and Henry McDonald
guardian.co.uk, Saturday 23 April 2011 18.52 BST
The UK mainland has not experience an Irish republican attack since car bombs exploded at the BBC Television Centre, and Ealing Broadway station in London in 2001.
Dissident republicans have developed the capability to mount an attack on the British mainland, according to the latest security assessment. Senior counter-terrorism sources confirmed the threat from dissidents attacking the mainland “now goes beyond an aspiration” and that they now possess the means to mount an attack across the Irish Sea.
Amid rising tension in the province and fears of an “Easter offensive” by dissident groups, police in Northern Ireland also warned that anti-ceasefire republicans were plotting to kill more police officers.
The increased threat from republican dissidents is certain to heighten security concerns during the build-up to the royal wedding on Friday, although there is no intelligence suggesting a specific plot related to the event.
On Friday another dissident grouping, styling itself “the IRA”, issued a public statement claiming responsibility for the murder of PC Ronan Kerr in Omagh this month. The group, comprising former members of the Provisional IRA, vowed to embark on a bombing campaign. It is understood that the new group includes veteran paramilitaries who were involved in transporting and later detonating the bomb that exploded at London’s Canary Wharf in 1996.
Intelligence officials monitoring dissident activity point to a growing sophistication in bomb-making techniques and a widening range of attack techniques as evidence of expanding capability. A senior intelligence source told the Observer: “We feel there is capability to attempt some form of an attack on Britain. Based on our assessment, it goes beyond an aspiration.” Dissident groups have recently deployed command-wire explosive devices, van-mounted weaponry, car bombs and vehicle booby traps, as well as more orthodox military equipment such as hand-grenades. Several individuals are believed to be under surveillance.
The mainland has not experienced an Irish republican attack since car bombs exploded at the BBC Television Centre and Ealing Broadway station in London in 2001. The head of MI5, Jonathan Evans, said last September, however, that dissidents posed a “real and increasing security challenge in Northern Ireland” and could be planning attacks elsewhere. According to MI5’s Joint Terrorism Analysis Centre, the official threat level is “substantial”, meaning an attack is a “strong possibility”.
On Saturday a man appeared in court facing charges in connection with the murder of Kerr. Gavin Coyle, 33, from Omagh was charged with possession of explosives, firearms and articles likely to be of use to terrorists. He was remanded in custody. The court heard he was linked to a footprint found at a major dissident republican arms dump in Coalisland during investigations into Kerr’s murder. Police have also revealed details of a substantial haul of guns and ammunition found in a vehicle stopped by officers in Keady, near the Irish border, on Friday.
Attention has concentrated upon the Real IRA and the smaller but technically able Oglaigh na hEireann, which has improved its explosives technology over the past two years. Analysis suggests that the explosives material being used by dissidents may have originated from a onetime Provisional IRA stockpile whose whereabouts were known by former quartermaster general Michael McKevitt – who formed the Real IRA.
Police in Northern Ireland said yesterday that fresh violence was expected. “Dissident terrorist groups are continuing to identify officers and target them with the single objective of killing them,” a spokesman said.
In further evidence of growing confidence among extremist republican groups, a leading figure in one of the dissident groups’ political wings announced that the Queen should be considered a “legitimate target” during her visit to Ireland in May. The general secretary of the hardline Republican Sinn Féin party, Josephine Hayden, said she would have no problem with a sniper targeting the Queen. “You might say that she is just a little old grandmother,” said Hayden, “but it is what she represents, what she symbolises that counts. She is a legitimate target.”
The Observer has learned that a radical republican group known as Eirígí: for a Socialist Republic is planning to occupy Dublin’s Garden of Remembrance 48 hours before the Queen is scheduled to attend a reconciliation ceremony there.
Republicans in Dublin say the splinter group plans to establish a tented camp on the Sunday prior to the visit, creating the possibility that the Garda Siochána will have to forcibly remove protesters before the royal tour begins on 17 May.
On 5 May, Northern Ireland is braced for trouble to mark assembly elections and the 30th anniversary of the death of IRA hunger striker Bobby Sands. Future trouble could depend on the reaction from the loyalist community, described by sources as “relatively restrained” until now. A 40-year-old Belfast man was, however, arrested on Saturday in connection with loyalist terrorist activity.
Republican Sinn Fein site
Real IRA site
Article About Cumann na mBan - Womans Irish Republican group
Irish National Liberation Army site
Continuity IRA site
From the Belfast Telegraph
Dissidents: interview with terror splinter group
By Brian Rowan
Wednesday, 3 November 2010
The Belfast Telegraph today publishes an interview with the terrorist group behind the Palace Barracks bombing and the Peadar Heffron murder attempt in which its leadership boasts: “Nothing is beyond our reach”.
The newspaper’s security correspondent Brian Rowan met face-to-face with senior figures in the armed republican faction Oglaigh na hEireann in the wake of the groups increasing activities which in recent months have also included a car bomb attack in Strand Road, Londonderry and an attempt to kill an Army Major with a booby-trap bomb.
The interview comes just weeks after the director-general of MI5 Jonathan Evans highlighted the “real and rising security challenge” posed by dissident groups here and the decision to raise the threat level in Britain to substantial.
The newspaper insisted on a face-to-face interview rather than written communications in order to challenge statements the group might make.
Oglaigh na hEireann has quickly become the most active of the dissident groups operating separately from the Real IRA and Continuity IRA.
The interview, which took place in a house in Belfast, covered a range of issues:
•The organisation’s tactics and strategy;
•Recent attempts by the security services to recruit informers from within its ranks;
•Its position on talks with the British and Irish Governments;
•What it thinks of Sinn Fein leaders Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness;
•And its response to that recent speech by the head of MI5.
The organisation made clear that attacks in places such as Holywood, Bangor and east Belfast have been deliberately planned in what were seen as “safe zones for security forces”.
“It was to send a direct message that nowhere is safe,” said one of the group’s leaders.
According to republican sources the organisation has between 80-100 members in Belfast drawn from the Provisional IRA, Real IRA and INLA and new recruits.
Three representatives of the group’s so-called Army Council and General Headquarters Staff took part in the interview with this newspaper — an interview in which they accepted they were not yet ready to launch a sustained campaign of attacks.
“To go at it full steam would increase momentum short term, but, we believe, ultimately would fail within a very short period of time,” said the Army Council representative.
“There is no ready-made IRA pack that can be assembled in a short period of time.
“An Oglaigh na hEireann capable of having a sustained campaign will take time to develop.”
This interview took days to arrange and was requested by the Belfast Telegraph after the speech by the head of MI5 and the decision shortly afterwards to publicly raise the threat level in Britain to substantial.
Here the threat level remains severe and the Police Federation has called for 1,000 more police officers.
“It says that they — MI5/British Intelligence — are acknowledging a growing threat, which they admit they played down and ignored — played it down and underestimated it,” the leaders of Oglaigh na hEireann said.
Asked whether attacks in Britain were part of their focus and thinking, they responded:
“Oglaigh na hEireann will decide when and where it attacks.
“Sceptics will say, ‘they would say that’, because they don’t have the capabilities.
“Eighteen months ago, they told us we couldn’t even detonate a bomb.
“Nothing is beyond our reach.”
During the past 18 months, the organisation placed three under-car booby trap bombs on vehicles belonging to Constable Peadar Heffron, an Army Major in Bangor, and the female partner of a PSNI dog handler in east Belfast.
Speaking to this newspaper, its leaders talked about those operations and how the security forces have responded. “We have noticed a dramatic increase in both overt and covert surveillance,” one of its leaders said.
This means a bigger challenge for the dissident group to operate under the security radar.
“Every time we are not involved in the execution of an operation, we are recruiting, developing expertise, gathering intelligence and planning the next operation,” its leadership said.
Oglaigh na hEireann said it did not want to copy the IRA. “They failed,” said one of its leaders.
Oglaigh na hEireann on bomb-making, targeting police and ‘successful operations’
Interview with three representatives of Oglaigh na hEireann leadership — one member of the organisation’s Army Council, who did almost all of the talking, and two general headquarters staff.
Rowan: I’d like to ask about the roots of your organisation, how it emerged — the when and why of that, what you see as the organisation’s role.
ONH: The organisation began with nothing more than a number of conversations between senior republicans across Ireland [in 2005]. They had watched how the anti-agreement republican military world had the perception of [being] badly organised, ineffective and perceived [as] highly infiltrated, and, in some cases, I suppose they were. They decided that after a very lengthy debate to try and salvage a group of republicans and form them into an organisation. It would have taken a year just to agree to the formation of a group. We had agreed the title Oglaigh na hEireann, but hadn’t made it public. We looked at all of the IRAs, including the Provisional IRA. We looked at all their strengths and weaknesses. We picked out what we believed were flaws in structure and operational, and we designed a structure for Oglaigh na hEireann, that while based on the same format as the Provisionals, had sections that were fundamentally different, which we believed offered better security and limited the security services in the event of them being able to successfully recruit agents and informers.
Rowan: [Is it] a new beginning, or picking up where others had left off?
ONH: It was a mixture of both. At that particular stage a number of people had come to our attention as having become disillusioned with the Provisional IRA strategy and approaches were made both ways [from ONH to individuals, and from individuals to ONH]. We believed that some of the people who were starting to form a core structure were people who could offer a formidable military alternative to what was then on offer militarily. It’s a number of people who were former members of other organisations, and that’s across the spectrum – Provisional IRA, INLA, Real IRA. The vast, vast majority of people who were recruited were deliberately selected for their skills, experience and know-how. This is island-wide. There wasn’t an open recruitment procedure.
Rowan: When does this become a first operation?
ONH: There was a number of training operations, and testing the structure, which have never been claimed. [The] first operation claimed was a kneecapping on south link pitches Andersonstown. The victim was shot six times —|elbows, knees, ankles.
Rowan: Talk to me about this description of a two-headed beast, used to describe the Oglaigh na hEireann relationship with the Real IRA — two bits of one organisation?
ONH: It simply isn’t the case. Oglaigh na hEireann is a separate entity. The confusion initially in some media and security circles, we assume, came about [because] there was a handful of former senior members of the Real IRA who were playing pivotal roles in the emerging Oglaigh na hEireann. Unfortunately because Oglaigh na hEireann wasn’t doing interviews or statements at that time the water remained cloudy.
Rowan: That suited you?
ONH: No end.
Rowan: What about joint operations — sharing materials, expertise?
ONH: At the present stage there is a friendly and cordial relationship between Oglaigh na hEireann and other armed republican organisations. That doesn’t cross over into joint operations. I don’t believe there is any sharing of expertise.
Rowan: Let’s deal with the tactics and strategy of your own organisation. Describe your immediate aims, and then we’ll talk about what you think is achievable longer term.
ONH: Our fundamentals are about securing the organisation, about credible recruitment and carrying out credible, high-grade operations. We also want to offer working class communities, who have been abandoned, protection from criminals and drug dealers. Every time we are not involved in an operation we are recruiting, developing expertise, gathering intelligence and planning the next operation. All of that is made easier on the back of some of our operations. The Provisional IRA took approximately 15 years to wind down. There is no ready-made IRA pack that can be assembled in a short period of time. An Oglaigh na hEireann capable of having a sustained campaign will take time to develop. It will take time to develop the structures, personnel, finance and weaponry.
Rowan: If Oglaigh na hEireann went full out [now]?
ONH: I think we would be playing right into the hands of the British, who, while the Provisional IRA were winding down continued with their
war machine in Ireland unabated. To go at it full steam would increase momentum short term, but we believe ultimately would fail within a very short period of time.
Rowan: As your expertise builds, as you become more successful in your terms, what happens inside and outside the organisation?
ONH: Inside the organisation successful operations increase morale. It also gives republicans increased confidence to carry out more daring attacks. Republicans who acknowledge that Oglaigh na hEireann are doing the right things offer their services. That in turn increases our capabilities even further.
Rowan: Do you have what previously would have been Provisional IRA bomb-making expertise?
Rowan: Do you want to elaborate?
ONH: No. We have found that former IRA volunteers have applied to join Oglaigh na hEireann on the back of those successful operations.
Rowan: Security activity?
ONH: We have noticed a dramatic increase in both overt and covert surveillance. A number of people have also been approached with offers from the security services to work for them — from right across the security spectrum. Four people in the last week have been approached with at least one offered a substantial amount of money. In the aftermath of Section 44 stop and search, with the increased [security] activity and presence, we watched as they tried to increase their presence on the ground, and, likewise, we adapted to counter that threat.
Rowan note: The interview then deals with a number of specific Oglaigh na hEireann attacks including the car bomb at Palace Barracks military base which houses the MI5 Headquarters in Northern Ireland, and the under-car booby trap bomb |attack in which police officer Peadar Heffron was critically injured. It also touches on a |dissident intelligence-gathering operation in a wooded area close to Palace Barracks. Over an unspecified period of time, digital cameras were used to record images of activity at the base.
Rowan: Did you target Peadar Heffron, or did you target a police officer?
ONH: We never target an individual in uniform. We target the uniform and what it stands for.
Rowan: Did you target him because of his involvement with the GAA — that he speaks the Irish language? Were you making a point?
ONH: No comment on that.
Rowan: Is he not as Irish — more Irish — than those who make up your organisation?
ONH: Absolutely not. Irish history is littered with mercenaries who have worked for and implemented British laws.
Rowan: What is it about new policing that you object to?
ONH: Policing in the north of Ireland is still controlled by National Security — MI5. All its powers, laws and finance come from England, and it is no different today in 2010 than it was in 1994 [the year the IRA announced a complete cessation of military operations]
Rowan: Do you really believe that?
ONH: Yeah I do ? everything that the RUC did — the abuse, harassment and frame-ups — still continues today.
Rowan: How big an operation was the Palace Barracks attack — its timing [coinciding with the devolution of justice powers] and the fact that MI5 Headquarters is on site?
ONH: The timing of it was deliberate. The significance was deliberate, and a major effort was put into that operation.
Rowan: Did you have the base under camera surveillance prior to that attack?
ONH: We’ll not go into details on duration of our surveillance except to say that we garnered significant intelligence.
Rowan: Is it from this that you target the Army Major [in a planned under-car booby trap bomb attack] in Bangor?
ONH: We won’t go into detail on how we garner intelligence except to say that we have shown that we can pinpoint police officers and soldiers very accurately.
Rowan: Security assessments suggest the fingerprint/type of bomb used in Bangor was |different to the make-up of the device used when you targeted a police dog-handler in east Belfast — clearly suggesting more than one bomb-maker. ONH: Oglaigh na hEireann has developed explosives expertise.
Rowan: It was the dog-handler you were targeting — not his partner?
ONH: Had we been targeting his partner it [the bomb] would have been under her seat. Our intelligence and surveillance showed us that she regularly drove him to work. We deliberately picked areas [for attacks] that were seen as safe zones for security forces. It was to send a direct message that nowhere is safe.
Rowan: I want to talk about some recent developments — the speech by the Director General of MI5, the threat level raised in Britain, Police Federation calls for a thousand more police officers, a stepping up of overt policing. What does all of this say to your organisation?
ONH: It says that they — MI5/British Intelligence — are acknowledging a growing threat, which they admit they played down and ignored, played it down and underestimated it.
Rowan: Is Britain – attacks there – part of your focus and thinking?
ONH: Oglaigh na hEireann will decide when and where it attacks. Sceptics will say, ‘they would say that because they don’t have the capabilities’. Eighteen months ago, they told us we couldn’t even detonate a bomb. Nothing is beyond our reach.
Rowan note: The interview then deals with a claim by Martin |McGuinness that the British and Irish governments have been talking to dissident groups. The Belfast Telegraph has been told of a process of contacts — not face-to-face, but mediators talking to representatives of the dissident groups and separately to British and Irish officials, but with all sides knowing who is involved.
Rowan: Has your organisation met face-to-face with representatives of the British or Irish governments?
Rowan: Let me talk about contacts, quiet dialogue, involving mediators talking both to your organisation and British and Irish officials. Do you recognise that description?
ONH: I recognise the description, yes.
Rowan: I’m told it’s at two levels — alternatives to punishment attacks, and exploring a way forward without armed struggle/activity. Is that a reasonable description?
ONH: We are a people’s army. It’s inevitable that we will be interacting with the community. Some punishment attacks are resolvable, others aren’t. It’s a giant leap to get from that to a perception of engagement with the British or Irish governments.
People from all walks of life talk to us about non-violent ways. Again, we don’t see that as direct contact with either government.
Rowan: How do you respond to the description of dissident republicans as traitors — “conflict junkies”?
ONH: We think it’s farcical. Some of the hypocritical comments coming from former armed republicans who are engaged in demonisation of former comrades for upholding the proclamation and the IRA’s Green Book.
Rowan: We hear a lot about senior Sinn Fein figures being warned of threats. Are they legitimate targets in your eyes?
ONH: No. Ireland has seen enough of feuds while the British sit back and happily watch it.
Rowan: The IRA was better armed, supported, resourced, and they acknowledged a military stalemate. So, what makes you think you can achieve more?
ONH: The overview of the structure we pointed to |earlier in the interview, we |believe has more durability to penetration. We have no |desire to replicate or be a morph of the Provisional IRA. They failed — so, why would we want to copy them? There is a fragile Assembly. There is a forging together of political opposites that is much easier to undermine and defeat than the war that the Provisionals had.
Rowan: Do you think a war can be won?
ONH: We think a war can |create the conditions where republicans can create |dialogue that will fulfil |republican objectives.
Rowan: Brits out?
ONH: A 32 county democratic socialist republic. Brits out is simply not good enough.
Rowan: So it’s a pipedream then?
ONH: Some people say that Ian Paisley and Martin McGuinness sitting in a room sharing power in a partitionist Assembly endorsing British policing was also a pipedream.
Rowan: Has killing become the cause, just to say, ‘we haven’t sold out’ — killing for killing’s sake?
ONH: As far as we are concerned we are not engaged in killing for killing’s sake. We are engaged in a war against the illegal occupation of our country and usurpation of Irish sovereignty.
Rowan: So you think that killing will work?
ONH: We think that a war will |create the conditions for |credible dialogue aimed at British withdrawal. Internal settlements are not what Irish republicans fought, died and went to jail for.
•September 2005: Major acts of decommissioning — “The IRA leadership can now confirm that the process of putting our arms beyond use has been completed.”
•2005-2006: Conversations among disaffected republicans leading to the formation of the dissident faction Oglaigh na hEireann. Members are drawn from Provisional IRA, Real IRA, INLA and new recruits.
•First claimed action: A so-called punishment attack in which the victim was shot in the elbows, ankles and knees.
•October 2009: Female partner of PSNI dog handler injured in under-car booby trap bomb attack in east Belfast.
•January 2010: PSNI constable Peadar Heffron critically injured in under-car booby trap bomb attack.
•April 2010: Car bomb explodes at Palace Barracks Army base Holywood, which houses the Northern Ireland MI5 headquarters.
•August 2010: Car bomb explodes at Strand Road Derry.
•August 2010: Army Major escapes |injury when a booby trap bomb falls from his vehicle.
More: Brian Rowan: It was like a journey into the past… but this was very much the present