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Harwich and Manningtree Standard
Press Association
18 April 2014

Dissident republican suspects in the killing of one of their former commanders in Belfast are “dinosaurs trapped in the past”, the city’s Lord Mayor said.

Ex-Continuity IRA (CIRA) figure Tommy Crossan, 43, was shot dead at a fuel depot in the grounds of an industrial complex in full view of surrounding houses. Three gunmen may have carried out the killing and a red BMW car was found on fire nearby.

A priest attended to pray over the bloodied victim in West Belfast, an area long known as a republican heartland but which has been relatively peaceful in recent years following the end of the IRA campaign in 1998.

Relatives gathered in tears at the scene, their devastation visible to onlookers.

First citizen Mairtin O Muilleoir of Sinn Fein said the killers existed in the dark margins of society but could not slow the pace of change in Belfast.

He claimed: “They are dinosaurs trapped in the past and I urge everyone to work with the police to remove them from our streets.”

Crossan was once the CIRA’s Belfast leader but was believed to be the subject of a death threat and had been expelled from the group some years ago after a fall out.

He served time in prison for conspiracy to murder Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) officers following a gun attack on a police station in West Belfast in 1998.

The CIRA has opposed the peace process which largely ended three decades of violence and transformed Northern Ireland. Crossan was killed on the 16th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement which mandated political power-sharing at Stormont.

CIRA gunmen murdered Police Constable Stephen Carroll in Lurgan in Co Armagh in March 2009 but the organisation has since been riven with splits, security sources have suggested.

Friday afternoon’s attack happened at the Peter Pan Centre in Springfield Road, the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) said. Detectives have launched a murder investigation and are combing the scene for forensics clues.

Mr O’Muilleoir told BBC Radio 4’s The World Tonight: “There are some micro groups of criminals masquerading under an assortment of republican labels. They have no support within the community.

“I wouldn’t under any guise brand them ‘professional’ but they certainly are killers… They have nothing to offer to the people of Belfast.”

He said t here was a whole assortment of factions, and fractions of factions, of dissident republicanism and added every week produced another schism.

“Sadly they clearly have access to guns and they have murderous intent and they are willing to kill those with whom they disagree.”

The largely-nationalist area of Belfast where the shooting happened is mainly comprised of tightly-packed terraced housing estates and businesses.

Nationalist SDLP councillor Colin Keenan said it was a horrific scene.

“We have long hoped that the shadow of death had been lifted from West Belfast.

“Today’s event is a terrible, tragic reminder of the violent conflict of the past.”

The Springfield Road, one of the main arterial routes, was closed to traffic.

A PSNI spokeswoman said: “Detectives from Serious Crime Branch have launched a murder investigation after a man was shot dead in the Springfield Road area of West Belfast.”

Members of the security forces have been on high alert for attacks by various extremist factions who have also killed two soldiers and a prison officer.

In recent weeks they have stepped up efforts to kill police officers, with several attacks on the force in West Belfast.

After the murder of prison officer David Black on the M1 motorway in November 2012, police mounted an unprecedented surveillance operation against various factions as well making significant arrests.

Sinn Fein Stormont Assembly Member Jennifer McCann said t hose behind Crossan’s killing had no consideration for anyone in the community except themselves and their own criminal agenda.

She added: “They have shot a man dead and endangered anyone in the immediate vicinity.

“There is now a family in mourning and a community traumatised by this shooting.

“It will not go unnoticed that, with sadness, at Easter time as republicans gather to commemorate their patriot dead, that there are criminals on the streets masquerading as republicans for their own ends.

“This community does not want them. They need to listen to this community, stop these senseless actions and go away.”

David Ford, Northern Ireland’s justice minister, said the murder should be condemned by all.

2 Nov 2012

Colin Duffy

A dissident republican has been arrested in connection with the murder of a long-serving prison officer and Orange Order member who was gunned down in a motorway ambush.

Colin Duffy, 44 and a second man were detained by officers in Lurgan, Co Armagh.

Duffy, 44, was acquitted by a judge in Belfast earlier this year of the murders of two soldiers shot dead by dissident republicans outside Massereene military barracks in Antrim in March 2009.

The second man is aged 31. Both men were taken for questioning by detectives at Antrim.

Married father-of-two David Black, 52, was shot several times from a car that pulled up alongside his on the M1 near Lurgan, Co Armagh, as he drove to work at Maghaberry jail yesterday morning.

Colleagues said Mr Black, from Cookstown, Co Tyrone, had been actively considering retirement after more than 30 years’ service. He was a long-standing member of the Orange Order in Cookstown.

Stormont First Minister Peter Robinson last night branded the culprits “flat-earth fanatics living in the dark ages, spewing out hatred from every pore”.

Grand Master of the Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland Edward Stevenson said he was the 337th member of the organisation to be murdered by terrorists since 1969.

“His professionalism throughout the worst of the Troubles and beyond is in stark contrast to the cowardly and faceless terrorists who today have left a wife without her husband and two children without their father,” he said.

Forensic officers search the scene on the M1 motorway where prison officer David Black (inset) was shot as he drove near the town of Lurgan, Northern Ireland (Photo: Reuters/Pacemaker)

“Our thoughts and prayers are with David’s wife, Yvonne, his children, Kyle and Kyra, and wider family circle at this deeply traumatic time.

“They can be assured that the Orange fraternity will rally around them in their hour of need.”

Prime Minister David Cameron joined political leaders on both sides of the Irish border in condemning what he said was a “brutal murder”.

He said: “These killers will not succeed in denying the people of Northern Ireland the peaceful, shared future they so desperately want.”

After being shot, Mr Black’s black Audi A4 veered off the road and crashed into a deep drainage ditch.

Police have blamed dissident republicans opposed to the peace process.

The violent extremists have been engaged in a long-running protest campaign against conditions inside HMP Maghaberry in Co Antrim – Northern Ireland’s only maximum-security prison.

Ministers from the Northern Ireland Executive and the Irish Republic’s government will discuss the murder at a North South Ministerial Council meeting in Armagh today, according to the BBC.

Stormont Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness insisted the murder would not destabilise the peace process.

“Our community stands absolutely four-square and united against the activities of these groups,” he said.

Mr Black has become the 30th prison officer killed in Northern Ireland since 1974, though the first for almost 20 years.

He was driving on the motorway between Portadown and Lurgan at about 7.30am when a dark blue Toyota Camry, with a Dublin registration, pulled alongside and several shots were fired.

Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) Assistant Chief Constable Drew Harris said dissidents had been actively targeting prison officers.

He indicated the gunshots, not the crash, had been the cause of death, adding: “Mr Black appears to have sustained very serious and probably fatal gunshot wounds. The motive behind this is sheer terror.”

The Toyota believed to have been used in the attack – registration 94 D 50997 – was later found burnt-out in the Inglewood area of Lurgan, Co Armagh – a town with strong pockets of dissident support.

Mr Black’s service stretched back as far as the 1981 IRA hunger strike inside the Maze prison when 10 republicans starved themselves to death.

PSNI Chief Constable Matt Baggott said it was a “completely senseless attack” that “demonstrated the recklessness and ruthlessness and sheer dangerousness of those who oppose peace and are dedicated to taking us back to those dark days of the past”.

Prison Service director-general Sue McAllister said Mr Black had expressed interest in an early retirement scheme but his departure date had not been set.

She vowed the officer’s colleagues would not be bowed by the attack.

Northern Ireland Secretary Theresa Villiers branded the attack on Mr Black “cowardly and evil”.

“Like his colleagues across the Prison Service, he was dedicated to serving the whole community in Northern Ireland,” she said.

“This is in stark contrast to the people responsible for this despicable crime.”

Irish Prime Minister, Taoiseach Enda Kenny, said the murder was “deeply disturbing”.

“I utterly condemn the actions of those who carried it out and their scant regard for human life,” he said while on an official visit to Berlin.

Mr Kenny added: “Those who committed this brutal act will rightly be condemned by all civilised and right-thinking people on this island who utterly reject such hideous and mindless violence.”

News Letter
8 June 2012

A WOMAN whose sister was gunned down by the IRA has branded Sinn Fein claims that the Shankill Butchers were victims of the Troubles as “political correctness gone barmy”.

Anne Travers, whose sister Mary was murdered as she left a Belfast chapel with her father and mother in 1984, also hit out at suggestions that one option to deal with Northern Ireland’s past might would be to let victims “die off”.

Ms Travers was speaking yesterday after Sinn Fein MLA Mitchel McLaughlin was asked on the BBC’s Stephen Nolan Show if the Shankill Butchers were victims.

He replied: “I think they were, because all of us are victims of a conflicted and divided society.”

The Shankill Butchers were a group of Belfast loyalists who murdered 19 people in the 1970s using tools from the butcher’s trade. Their nickname is still used today as a by-word for cruelty.

Mr McLaughlin was then asked if ordinary people distinguish between an innocent child killed in the Troubles and armed men on the British or republican sides.

But the MLA replied: “I am refusing to be drawn into that game of a hierarchy of blame.”

Asked if dissident republicans are also victims, he replied: “Of course they are.”

Ms Travers immediately hit out against Mr McLaughlin’s comments on social networking site Twitter. She then contacted the News Letter to repeat her views.

“What Mitchel McLaughlin said was going to the ridiculous,” she said. “His definition of victims is political correctness gone barmy.

“I cannot see how someone who plants a bomb can be on an equal footing with one of their victims, people who had no means to defend themselves and no prior warning they were about to be attacked.

“Just because you are in a community where something bad has happened to you, it doesn’t mean it is completely right to go out and murder.

“Sinn Fein put the IRA volunteers to the forefront and are very supportive of them. But I remember growing up in Northern Ireland where people were petrified of what the IRA and loyalists would do to them.”

Denis Bradley, a former co-chair of the Northern Ireland Consultative Group on the Past, agreed with BBC presenter Stephen Nolan’s suggestion yesterday that a “crude” option for dealing with the past is to “stall it as long as possible and eventually those victims will die off and that is when Northern Ireland will move forward”.

Mr Bradley replied: “Well it is not that crude, no. It is crude in a way, but everything put forward here is to some degree. But there are certainly people in our society who would express that [view] publicly or privately.”

He added that with such an approach “the past” would still be holding Northern Ireland back.

Ms Travers said: “My response to that is that my father spent his entire life after he was shot trying to get the truth of what happened to his daughter. He was just heartbroken that he was not able to get justice for his beautiful daughter.

“If we just want to let the victims die off it will just be like covering up a wound, letting it puss away and get ulcerated. We must celebrate how far we have come, but we also need the whole picture on the past.

“We know Sinn Fein now wants cleared criminal records for IRA members but I would call on them first to stop justifying themselves and their past. Give us victims a shred of humanity because that is what you are asking us to give to you. “Sinn Fein rejects any talk of a hierarchy of victims but they have their own hierarchy of victims and my sister is right at the bottom of it.

“Individual victims sit quietly at home as there are so many big personalities at Stormont and it is hard to speak out against Sinn Fein because they are so passionate and unflinching. But I want to call on individual victims to speak out.

“Every victim bleeds the same whether shot by republicans, loyalists or the Army, but at least we have had the Bloody Sunday inquiry.

“Even the loyalists repudiated their campaign of violence when they decommissioned – but republicans have never done that.”

Ms Travers says she does not want to see any former IRA members go to jail.

She said: “What I do need is for Sinn Fein to say to me that my dad didn’t deserve to be attacked and that my sister didn’t deserve to die like that. Instead, they just say it was ‘regrettable’.

“I would like to know who played God and decided that my dad should be targeted, even more than that I would like to know who the gunmen were who shot him,” she said.

* Follow Philip Bradfield on twitter at @Phil_Bradfield

News Letter
7 June 2012

THE dissident terror faction Oglaigh na hEireann has claimed the bomb attack on a PSNI vehicle on Wednesday.

And they have warned they are planning more attacks on police.

The claim was made to security journalist Brian Rowan

In the statement the group said it “patiently waited and ambushed the PSNI” with what has been described as a grenade.

A device was thrown at officers in the Whin Park area shortly after midnight on Wednesday, as PSNI responded to an emergency call.

Two family cars sustained most of the damage. Shrapnel smashed through the window of a third vehicle, which was parked across the street, then pierced the headrest of the driver’s seat.

Police said it was fortunate that no one had been injured or killed in the attack.

By Alan Erwin
Belfast Telegraph
7 June 2012

A dissident republican car bomb attack on a Catholic PSNI officer whose leg had to be amputated “went like a dream”, the High Court has heard.

Details of covert recordings of dissident suspects were revealed at a bail application by a man accused of being at an alleged terrorist training camp outside Omagh.

The camp was in advanced preparations for an attack on police or the public, the court heard.

Prosecutors also claimed suspects were covertly recorded discussing methods, recruitment, arms acquisition and even their willingness to accept the negative publicity killing a PSNI officer would bring.

During months of surveillance in Co Tyrone, one of those under scrutiny allegedly declared it was no longer a challenge to target Catholic officers.

Reference was also allegedly made to the 2010 car bombing in which Constable Peadar Heffron was critically injured.

The court was told one of those recorded had stated: “Heffron went like a dream.”

The investigation was said to be into a group of dissidents styling themselves on the ideology, philosophy and activities of the Real IRA, without being affiliated to that organisation.

Terence Aidan Coney, a 33-year-old architect from Malabhui Road, Carrickmore, Co Tyrone, denies charges of preparation of terrorist acts, possession of a firearm with intent to endanger life or property, and attending a place used for terrorist training.

It was claimed that he attended the camp in Formil Wood, Gorticashel Road, with two other men and a woman on March 30 when 200 rifle rounds were fired.

Balloons and pieces of tin had been pinned to trees as targets, a judge was told.

Only 15 shell cases were recovered, with the prosecution alleging a deliberate attempt was made to “cleanse” the area of evidence.

According to Crown Counsel Fiona O’Kane, witnesses have linked Coney to the scene.

She said: “The police case is that the shooting that took place in the woods that day was terrorists practising for potential attacks, practising in the advanced stages of mounting an attack on police or other members of the community.”

According to the barrister, these suspicions were supported by tape-recorded conversations between two co-accused.

Sharon Rafferty (37), from Cavana Linn, Pomeroy, and Sean Kelly (46), from Duneane Crescent, Toomebridge, were covertly monitored at various locations throughout Co Tyrone from 2011 to April 2012, the court heard.

Mrs O’Kane said the discussions referred to firearms training and walking up to people and putting nine rounds in them.

The bail application was adjourned by the judge.


Peadar Heffron joined the PSNI in March 2002. He suffered massive injuries after a bomb exploded under his car in January 2010.

Constable Heffron, who married in 2009 and is related to a senior Sinn Fein member, was driving along the Milltown Road in Randalstown, half a mile from his home, when the device exploded.

Captain of the PSNI Gaelic team, he also took part in the first-ever Policing Board meeting held in Irish.

6 June 2012

An alleged terrorist training camp was in advanced preparations for an attack on police or the public, the High Court in Belfast has heard.

Prosecutors also claimed suspects were covertly recorded discussing methods, recruitment, arms acquisition and even their willingness to accept the negative publicity killing a PSNI officer would bring.

During months of surveillance in Co Tyrone one of those under scrutiny allegedly declared it was no longer a challenge to target Catholic officers.

The investigation was said to be into a group of dissident republicans styling themselves on the ideology, philosophy and activities of the Real IRA, without being affiliated to that organisation.

Details emerged during a bail application by one of those accused of being at the alleged camp in Formil Wood, Gorticashel Road, outside Omagh.

Shell cases

Terence Aidan Coney, a 33-year-old architect from Malabhui Road, Carrickmore, Co Tyrone denies charges of preparation of terrorist acts, possession of a firearm with intent to endanger life or property, and attending a place used for terrorist training.

It was claimed that he attended the camp with two other men and a woman on March 30 when 200 rifle rounds were fired.

Balloons and pieces of tin had been pinned to trees as targets, a judge was told.

Only 15 shell cases were recovered, with the prosecution alleging a deliberate attempt was made to “cleanse” the area of evidence.

According to Crown Counsel Fiona O’Kane, witnesses have linked Coney to the scene.

She said: “The police case is that the shooting that took place in the woods that day was terrorists practising for potential attacks, practising in the advanced stages of mounting an attack on police or other members of the community.”


According to the barrister these suspicions were supported by tape-recorded conversations between two co-accused.

Sharon Rafferty, 37, from Cavana Linn, Pomeroy and Sean Kelly, 46, from Duneane Crescent, Toomebridge were covertly monitored at various locations throughout Co Tyrone from 2011 to April 2012, the court heard.

“During some of the conversations, in particular in the relation to the murder of Constable Ronan Kerr, Rafferty and Kelly discussed the negative publicity that killing a police officer brings,” Mrs O’Kane said.

“However, they were prepared to accept this.”

She accepted that none of the alleged remarks can be attributed to Coney.


But Mr Justice Maguire was told police believe he was deliberately recruited because his lack of criminal record meant he was “clean”.

Searches carried out at the home of his co-accused brother, Gavin Joseph Coney, 34, of Gorticashel Road, Omagh, led to the recovery of a legally held rifle.

A silencer, extra ammunition, four balaclavas, dark jackets, gloves and pairs of white trainers were also found, according to the prosecution.

Terence Aidan Coney’s barrister, Eugene McKenna, stressed that his client vehemently denies any involvement with dissident republicans or support for them.

He argued that most of the prosecution case had focused on material gathered on the other suspects.

“Therefore to suggest that this applicant was involved in anything more than a legitimate recreational activity, it is essential for the prosecution to tie him in with the co-accused,” he said.

Mr McKenna told the court he had scanned through transcripts from seven hours of surveillance and found only three mentions of the name Aidan which could possibly refer to his client.

Following further discussions the bail application was adjourned so that a more in-depth examination of the material can be carried out.

Irish Times
26 May 2012

**Video onsite

Northern Ireland deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness has offered to hold talks with dissident republicans. He insisted, however, the process of building a new future “will continue with or without” them.

In the first keynote address this morning at the the Sinn Féin ard fheis he said he was offering dissidents an “opportunity to meet and talk, come and tell us what you hope to gain by deluding yourselves and the gullible, that your actions will succeed in what is certainly a pathetic and futile attempt to turn back the clock”.

Referring to Unionist concerns he said those who thought a united Ireland could be built without unionist participation and leadership were “deluded”.

And he pledged the party’s commitment to push for voting rights to be extended to those in the North and emigrants. “Talk during elections is one thing. Now is the time for action,” said the former Presidential election candidate.

A former senior IRA member, Mr McGuinness told about 400 delegates at the morning session: “I was part of the conflict. I was there during the difficult and tragic times we had in the past and let me tell you there is nothing romantic about the war.”

“It was hard, it was painful and it was traumatic and I never ever want the children of Ireland who live today in peace to be subjected to the conflict, pain and hurt that we lived through.”

He added that “if anyone can claim to understand the mindset of those opposed to peaceful Irish republicanism I think I can”.

The Mid-Ulster MP and MLA said there were those who claimed to be republican and to “still be fighting for Ireland, these people claim they love our country but clearly they don’t love our people as the murder of Ronan Kerr, a young GAA loving police officer in April last year showed”.

“Those involved in these violent acts don’t believe for one minute that they further the cause of Irish reunification. What’s more they also know the agreements we have negotiated are solid and secure.

He had met Mr Kerr’s mother Nuala Kerr and Kate Carroll, whose husband PSNI officer Steven Carroll was killed in Craigavon and they were genuine supporters of peace and change.

“My message to those who remain committed to violence is that it is not much of an achievement to think that the only thing you have shown the capability to break are two fine women’s hearts.”

Delegates at the ardfheis also debated the economy, health, education and the household charge. Laois-Offaly TD Brian Stanley said next month Sinn Féin will introduce the Local Government Household Charge Repeal bill seeking to force the Government to get rid of the €100 household charge.

He said half of all householders had not paid the charge and he urged unions, community groups, councillors and TDs, particularly Labour members, to rally behind the attempt to consign the charge “to the rubbish bin of history”.

The party’s health spokesman Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin criticised the U-turn by Minister for Health Dr James Reilly from Opposition to Government. “For years James Reilly was like a hawk swooping on Mary Harney and today he is but a parrot repeating her words”.

Donegal North East TD Padraig MacLochlainn told the ardfheis that “while there are no quick fixes or easy answers to our economic crisis there are choices. Unfortunately the Government is making all the wrong ones.”

He said Sinn Féin had a roadmap to get to a prosperous and equal Ireland. “We have produced a detailed, costed and credible plan.”

Sinn Féin Youth delegate Diane Nolan said unemployment was 14.7 per cent in the Republic in February. Under 25 unemployment was more than double that figure at 31.6 per cent. “And in the North youth unemployment is at a 15 year high,” she said.

MP and MLA Conor Murphy said the Northern Ireland Assembly’s lack of fiscal powers limited Sinn Féin’s ability to tackle the economic crisis. “Without the necessary tools we cannot design the policies to assist economic recovery on the island and are simply reduced to redistributing an ever decreasing block grant from London.”

Senator Kathryn Reilly surprised delegates when she took off two GAA club jerseys, one after the other, leaving on a London GAA club jersey. She said it was to highlight how clubs had been ravaged by emigration. Ms Reilly pointed out that the only thriving GAA clubs were those abroad.

Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams will address the ardfheis at 5.25 pm.

Sinn Féin MP attacks Real IRA, Continuity IRA and other opponents of power-sharing as ‘pathetic’ and ‘deluded’

Henry McDonald
26 May 2012

The deputy first minister of Northern Ireland, Martin McGuinness, has accused the Real IRA, Continuity IRA and other dissident republicans of being the enemies of Ireland and opponents of progress.

The Sinn Féin MP described those republicans opposed to power sharing in the north of Ireland as “pathetic”.

Referrring to the widow of the murdered police officer Stephen Carroll and the mother of Constable Ronan Kerr, who was killed last year by a booby-trap car bomb, the former IRA chief of staff said all the dissident republicans could do was “break these two fine women’s hearts”.

Speaking at the Sinn Féin annual conference in Kerry on Saturday, McGuinness said: “People who think that a new Ireland can be built without unionist participation, involvement & leadership are deluded.”

He said the process of building a new future on Ireland would move on with or without the republican dissidents.

McGuinness told the conference that he didn’t “want the children of Ireland to live through the pain, conflict and hurt that we lived through”.

He said it was time for all republicans to recognise that there were in the north one million people who considered themselves to be British.

The former head of the IRA in the Troubles also offered to meet with republican dissidents with the aim of dissuading them from their armed campaign.

“The war is over,” he told delegates at the conference, adding that there was “nothing romantic” about it.

The Real IRA and Continuity IRA have repeatedly said they have nothing to discuss with Sinn Féin leaders in relation to their ongoing campaign of violence.

Renegade republicans want to be known for their ‘successes’. But their increasing failures are matched only by the sterility of their campaign, says Brian Rowan

Brian Rowan
Belfast Telegraph
23 May 2012

A police source, speaking to this newspaper, described a “constant battle” with dissident republicans – much of which is unseen.

That battle includes a mix of security things; both off-stage intelligence operations and visible policing, the two designed to try to stop the different armed groups. It is about spoiling their war plans.

Just last weekend, seven people, including two brothers and a cousin of prominent dissident republican Colin Duffy, appeared in court on a range of charges. Duffy’s older brother Paul, is charged with directing terrorism.

It follows a major investigation involving both the police and the Security Service, MI5, whose off-stage role is monitoring, using their gadgetry to watch and listen.

There is always background activity.

Just a few weeks ago, a van-bomb was discovered outside Newry; 600lbs of explosives packed into two barrels and fitted with all its deadly parts.

The van – left with its engine running – was discovered by a member of the public, who contacted the police. One theory was that the vehicle had been abandoned short of its target.

Since then, however, different and more fixed thinking has emerged. “It would appear we were the principal target,” a police source confirmed.

The bomb was to be triggered by remote control and this was, in the words of the source, “an attempt to bring us in and detonate”. That security operation was something all of us could see, but it is only part of the picture.

“This is fairly constant,” the police source said, meaning dissident activity, including the things we don’t see.

“It is not something that occurs every six months,” he continued. “It’s a constant battle.”

And it is something else; a reminder of the real dangers in these continuing dissident war games; why the police, in response to a whole range of alerts, need to think carefully about what to do and when to do it.

So, they don’t rush in to the trap. They need measured steps.

In this situation the dissident plan did not produce the result they wanted. They would want their ‘wars’ to be defined by what they would consider their ‘successes’ – those things that happen as they intend.

In their cold thinking, this is the gun attack on Massereene army barracks, the shooting of police constable Stephen Carroll and the bomb that killed Ronan Kerr.

There were headlines in the bomb attack at Palace Barracks in Holywood, which houses MI5.

These are some of those war ‘successes’, but again, in this we only see part of the picture. A significant part of the dissident story is what doesn’t work – and why. At the start of this year, Oglaigh na hEireann (ONH) played a game of cat-and-mouse with soldiers visiting Belfast, before placing a booby-trap bomb inside one of their cars.

It claimed it was a grenade placed under the driver’s seat with a trip-wire attached to the seatbelt buckle (police said it was a pipe-bomb). This time the device was discovered and no one was hurt.

A year earlier, in January 2011, also in north Belfast, ONH set a double bomb-trap intended for police. It claimed the presence of a civilian, a woman, stopped them detonating the first device, which had been attached to a command wire running to a firing point.

A second device was found in the follow-up security operation, which ONH again claimed was a grenade on a trip-wire. Police sources described it as a military-type training flare.

So, there is this pattern of things that don’t work; bombs that fail to detonate, or only partially explode, or are abandoned for one reason or another. And this is also a significant part of the dissident story; important context when assessing the threat.

It is not just about what they would consider to be their ‘successes’, but also the ‘failures’. Some of it will be because of technical inexperience; at other times because they have been interrupted by security activity. And there will be occasions, such as the example in north Belfast, when they were forced to pause because of civilian presence.

Still, we only have part of the story.

There will be information coming out of the dissident organisations and into the intelligence world that we are not told about. Dissident bombs have been neutralised before being moved and put in place at targets; explosives removed and replaced by another substance in a process known as ‘substitution’.

In these war games, these are things we don’t see. But there are things we know and the dissidents also know; that these continuing wars cannot be won.

Yes, these organisations have the ability to kill, have done so and will try again. For what purpose?

There are republicans who do not support Sinn Fein, but who remain opposed to any armed struggle. The dissidents should listen to those republicans and explore and find different ways to be heard.

Their bombs won’t work and their wars won’t work.

By John McGurk
Belfast Telegraph
21 May 2012

A mother-of-three has been become the first woman ever to be charged with directing terrorism in Northern Ireland.

Sharon Rafferty (37), from Pomeroy, Co Tyrone, appeared in court at the weekend accused of taking part in a terrorist training camp.

The blonde single mother was one of four people who appeared at Omagh Magistrates Court on charges linked to an alleged dissident republican terror training camp that included a secret firing range.

Police claimed Rafferty had been recorded talking to a co-accused discussing targeting police officers and the impact of an .22 rifle bullet on a human being.

Appearing alongside Rafferty were Sean Kelly from Duneane Crescent in Toomebridge, 33-year-old Terence Aidan Coney, of Malabhui Road in Omagh, and 37-year-old Gavin Coney, from Gorticashel Road, also in Omagh.

All four were remanded in custody. Police alleged that the four were involved in an improvised terrorist training camp at Formil Wood on the Gorticashel Road.

It was alleged that 200 rounds were heard being fired at the wood on March 30 this year and that bullet casings were recovered from the area.

A PSNI detective said conversations had been recorded between Rafferty and Kelly from 2011 until April 2012.

He said that in those conversations, Rafferty and Kelly discussed targeting police officers and senior prison officers, acquiring firearms, firearms training, recruiting, and providing finance for an organisation.

The police officer also said the pair were recorded discussing the penetrative power of a .22 rifle on a human being.

He said the PSNI would present witness and DNA evidence linking all four to the firing range.

Rafferty of Cavana Linn, Pomeroy, and 46-year-old Kelly are charged with directing the activities of a terrorist organisation.

The charge accuses them of directing the activities of an organisation styling itself upon the IRA between November 8, 2011 and May 12, 2012. Kelly is also accused of collecting information likely to be of use to terrorists.

All four defendants are accused of possessing a .22 Walther rifle and ammunition and attending a place used for terrorist training.

The officer said balaclavas, rubber gloves and four sets of waterproof clothing had been found during a search of Gavin Coney’s house. He also confirmed that a .22 Walther rifle is legally held by Gavin Coney.

The court heard that during seven days of interviews, Rafferty and the Coney brothers had not answered police questions, while Kelly had denied membership of any organisation.

Only Rafferty applied for bail but judge Liam McNally rejected her application.

All four are due to appear again before Omagh court by videolink tomorrow.

Seldom-used law that put loyalist Johnny ‘Mad Dog’ Adair behind bars in 1990s is used to charged 47-year-old man

Henry McDonald
18 May 2012

Anti-terrorist laws used to jail the top loyalist Johnny “Mad Dog” Adair have been used to charge a suspected republican dissident.

The 47-year-old from the Lurgan area of County Armagh will face charges of “directing acts of terrorism’ – a relatively unused piece of legislation that put Adair behind bars for several years in the 1990s.

The suspect, along with two other men aged 41 and 42, will appear at Lisburn magistrates court on Saturday morning. All three men face charges of conspiracy to murder, conspiracy to cause an explosion, the preparation of terrorist attacks and collecting information of use to terrorism, the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) said on Friday night.

The PSNI said the charges “are a result of an investigation led by police into dissident republican terrorist activity”.

A PSNI spokeswoman said the police had worked closely with colleagues in MI5 and the Public Prosecution Service to reach a point where charges had been brought.

The arrests in Lurgan centre on a suspected unit of the Continuity IRA, which has a small but active presence in the North Armagh area. The terror group was responsible in March 2009 for murdering the PSNI officer Stephen Carroll.

The “directing acts of terrorism” charge is highly controversial and has been criticised by some civil liberties groups in the past. Under the legislation a suspect can be arrested and held on remand and then face charges on the word of a senior police commander from the rank of superintendent who will tell the court he or she believes the person detained is directing terrorist organisations.

Meanwhile, three men and a woman remain in custody after arrests in Carrickmore, Toome, Omagh and Pomeroy as part of a drive by the security forces against dissident republican terrorist groups opposed to the peace process and power sharing in Northern Ireland.

The detentions in counties Tyrone and Antrim are part of a parallel security operation against a breakaway faction of the Real IRA with a stronghold in the east Tyrone area.

ANALYSIS: The PSNI sought to tell dissidents there is a price to pay for causing murder and despair

Irish Times
31 Mar 2012

SHORTLY AFTER Lord Justice Girvan convicted former Sinn Féin councillor Brendan McConville and John Paul Wootton of the murder of Constable Stephen Carroll, PSNI Assistant Chief Constable Drew Harris made a point of walking over to the chief prosecuting lawyer, Ciaran Murphy QC, to shake hands and congratulate him.

This was a big case that carried a big message, and Mr Harris’s gesture reflected the PSNI’s sense of satisfaction at the outcome, and also its sense of relief.

It was a big case too for the family of Constable Carroll. That was obvious in how his widow Kate emotionally embraced her son Shane in the public gallery of the court after the verdict was announced.

Ms Carroll said the case brought some closure, but there was a “long, long way to go yet because not everyone connected with Steve’s murder has been found guilty”.

This is undoubtedly true, because a considerable degree of planning went into the murder operation carried out by the Continuity IRA – and certainly more than two of its members were involved.

It’s not even clear that either McConville or Wootton fired the fatal shot from the AK 47 assault rifle on the night of March 9th, 2009, that killed 48-year-old Constable Carroll. But, said Lord Justice Girvan, while the evidence against the two men was circumstantial, the case was nonetheless “compelling” and they “were both intimately involved” in the murder.

Therefore there is some sense of release for the Carroll family, and a strong sense of professional achievement for the PSNI.

It was hugely important for the police that they put up a credible, thorough case against the defendants. This wasn’t just about the murder of Constable Stephen Carroll; it was about sending a message of intent to dissident republicans: while they could cause murder and despair, there would be a price to pay.

The dissidents have been involved in three high-profile murder attacks in the past three years. In January, Brian Shivers was convicted of the dissident murders in Antrim of British soldiers Patrick Azimkar and Mark Quinsey, which happened just two days before the murder of Constable Carroll. The other defendant, leading Lurgan republican Colin Duffy, walked free.

Of the four defendants in the two cases, three were convicted of murder, which indicates the investigators put together well-constructed, if imperfect, cases. The results must also have some effect in terms of prompting others to think twice before casting their lot with the nihilistic philosophy of the dissidents.

The third major killing was that of Constable Ronan Kerr, who died in an under-car bomb attack in Omagh on April 2nd last year. Nobody has been charged with his murder, but the PSNI is actively pursuing the case and hasn’t by any measure given up hope of yet bringing charges and achieving convictions.

Ms Carroll said she pitied the killers. “They haven’t achieved anything from when Steve was killed, from when Ronan Kerr was killed,” she said.

There are old-guard purist republicans on whom such a message will have absolutely no impact. But there must be others, mindful of a fairly strong “strike” rate by the police in terms of convictions, who will pause for thought when considering taking the dissident route.

Whatever about the involvement of a veteran republican such as McConville, who transferred from Sinn Féin to the dissidents when the Provisionals embraced the new dispensation, what motivated Wootton to get involved?

He was only 17 when Constable Carroll was murdered and would have had relatively little memory of the Troubles.

“A cop’s a cop,” was his brutal and simplistic view about it all. One wonders is he any wiser now, and does he recognise any truth in what Ms Carroll also said yesterday about the dissidents? “They have achieved nothing. They are fighting a losing battle. Why do they do it? No one wants it any more.”

Can all the cast of republicans find a common stage to talk about how to finally achieve peace here, asks Brian Rowan

Belfast Telegraph
18 February 2012

Last Saturday was the start of something – an on-stage dialogue or debate between what we now label the mainstream and dissident wings of republicanism.

The opportunity was created by the theatre: a panel discussion which I chaired and which followed a matinee performance of Sam Millar’s play Brothers In Arms.

Its director, Martin Lynch, came up with the idea of a follow-up symposium in the Waterfront Studio.

And, on stage, the panel stretched from former assistant chief constable Peter Sheridan sitting beside the last IRA OC in the H Blocks, Jim McVeigh, who in that move from war to peace is now the leader of Sinn Fein on Belfast City Council.

To my left sat Ciaran Cunningham of the Republican Network for Unity (RNU) and beside him first-time playwright Millar, himself a former prisoner and ‘blanketman’ from that period when the jail was another battlefield.

Several years ago, Cunningham was jailed for intelligence-gathering.

More recently, he was arrested during a protest at Alliance Party Headquarters in Belfast. That was linked to jail conditions at Maghaberry and designed to catch the attention of Justice Minister David Ford.

RNU styles itself a pressure group, and some of its members reach into the armed faction Oglaigh na hEireann, the group behind the bomb explosion at Palace Barracks which houses the NI Headquarters of MI5, and also the attempt to kill police constable Peadar Heffron.

Sinn Fein agreed to participation in Saturday’s event, but has since declined requests to take part in a Nolan Show discussion on Radio Ulster and a second panel debate in Armagh next Wednesday.

But it is not a walk away from dialogue: more a statement that the talking, if people are serious about it, needs to come off-stage. If that unfinished business of the republican community is to be addressed, then it will have to happen in a facilitated face-to-face exchange away from stage and airwaves.

There is the matter of continuing armed actions. What is their purpose? What can be achieved that wasn’t by an IRA supplied by Libya?

There is the question of a United Ireland strategy; can politics advance that goal?

Policing and the role of MI5 will be on any agenda, and the specifics of intelligence operations and agents.

Criminality will be part of any discussion. And then there is the issue of the needs of ex-prisoners.

There are undoubtedly those who feel left behind in the peace.

Writing on the Eamonn Mallie website, one of the church witnesses to the IRA’s decommissioning, Rev Harold Good, said: “For a meaningful and lasting peace we must do all we can to include rather than exclude each other.

“Don’t let our bloody history repeat itself. Please keep talking.”

It is easier said than done.

The dissident world is a fractured and scattered community. It is a bit like dropping a glass and then looking for the pieces and never being sure you found them all.

There are splinters of splinters.

So, it is not just about getting the Republican Network for Unity into the room.

There is the 32 County Sovereignty Movement, Republican Sinn Fein, the IRSP, and then the armed dissident groups: the Real IRA, Continuity IRA, Oglaigh na hEireann and others under the heading “unaffiliated”.

It is a massive piece of work and it may be that there are those who are not interested.

But we will only find the answer to that question if a place for talking is established, and if everyone is invited into the room.

Irish Times
30 Jan 2012

INTERVIEW : Policing methods and a hearts-and-minds strategy will be employed in tandem

DREW HARRIS, the assistant chief constable with one of the most challenging posts in the PSNI, says the battle against dissident republicans will continue relentlessly and will go on for a long time.

It has been an up-and-down period for Harris, who as head of PSNI crime operations is charged with combating the threat from the dissidents.

Just over a week ago the Massereene murders trial concluded with the conviction of Brian Shivers for the killings of British soldiers Patrick Azimkar and Mark Quinsey. Lurgan republican Colin Duffy was acquitted of the killings.

The trial of former Sinn Féin councillor Brendan McConville and John Paul Wootton for the Continuity IRA murder in Craigavon, Co Armagh, of Constable Stephen Carroll two days after the Massereene murders in March 2009 continues at the Crown Court in Laganside in Belfast.

Nobody has been charged with the murder of Constable Ronan Kerr, who died in an under-car bomb attack in Omagh in April last year. His killing is still being actively investigated, according to police, as are the murders of Constable Carroll and those of the two soldiers.

These are the most high-profile relatively recent murders that dissidents have admitted. But they have also been involved in other killings, numerous bomb and gun attacks, including recently in Belfast and Derry, and in so-called punishment shootings. The threat level from the dissidents, as measured by MI5, remains “severe”: that is, an attack from them is “highly likely”. In terms of dealing with that real and present threat and tackling all that purist republican crime and putting people in prison, the buck stops with Harris.

He is a quiet, reflective individual who started as a constable in the RUC in 1983 and rose steadily through the ranks. He views the dissidents as “near fascist”, a group “whose mindset is absolutely certain of the validity of their argument, so certain they feel they have the right to inflict violence on others”. In a time when there is political stability and a political dispensation supported by the overwhelming majority of people in Northern Ireland, what they are doing “defies logic”, he says, in an interview at police headquarters at Knock in east Belfast, given ahead of the Massereene judgment.

But he knows too that it is their narrow view that makes them dangerous and unpredictable. The policing and intelligence strategy is to hit them with everything they can, he explains, and at community level to win the battle for hearts and minds. And that battle will run just as long as the dissidents run.

It is a multi-pronged approach of community and criminal policing; in the latter case dealing with the actual paramilitary threat but also targeting dissidents for more common forms of criminality such as drug-dealing, smuggling, drink-driving, fuel-laundering, petty criminality and “for whatever vulnerabilities there are in their lifestyle”.

If known or suspected dissidents are seen to be living beyond their means, then the Criminal Assets Bureau in the South and the Serious Organised Crime Agency in the North will target them, Harris explains. If there are suspected tax issues, then the tax authorities are brought in. “We have been going solid at this for two years now,” he says. It is a quiet war of attrition, most of which does not make big news.

The PSNI, Garda and MI5 and their dissident opponents are braced for a long conflict. “I think they themselves see it as a long-term project that they are engaged in. I don’t think they particularly see success in terms of weeks or months but they look at this in terms of years. We need to put our own timescale against this as well,” says Harris.

He says the dissidents can be resisted and does not believe the support systems or “emotional drivers” are present to allow for anything approaching a successful campaign of violence over the coming years.

Harris adds that garnering support on the ground to resist the dissidents is also crucial. The symbolism of GAA members carrying the coffin of Constable Kerr last year was powerful and still resonates in demonstrating the now extensive endorsement of the Belfast Agreement and the new policing and justice arrangements. The successful visit of Queen Elizabeth to the Republic also contributed. “These things are important. It keeps the agenda moving forward of a society at peace with itself as opposed to a society at conflict with itself.”

Harris recalls how after the 1998 Real IRA Omagh bombing, which killed 29 people including a woman pregnant with twins, there was a “weight of public opinion” against the dissidents.

“We need to keep mobilising that weight of public opinion. Together with our Garda colleagues we can chip away at them, lock them up, but the long-term thing that will erode them is if there is no public support for their actions. What happened in terms of the response to Ronan Kerr was very important in driving that message home to them.”

He says the dissidents have an “insidious” and “medieval” way of developing a support base. “For instance shooting people for what they term anti-social behaviour, or shooting people facing sexual assault or indecency offences. They’ll say, ‘if you are concerned about sex offenders in your area don’t worry we’ll shoot them’ – that sort of thing.”

Harris adds that that is why developing and improving community policing, particularly in “hard-to-reach communities”, must be a constant focus for the PSNI. “Our major aim is to make sure of a good-quality police presence on the ground. It’s about developing a counter-narrative to the rubbish that they spout.”
Friday January 20 2012

Police in Northern Ireland are on full alert amid fears of an escalating terrorist campaign by dissident republicans.

A faction opposed to the peace process was blamed for Thursday night’s bombings in and around the centre of Londonderry and even though nobody was hurt, police said the terrorists were prepared to take whatever chances they thought necessary to cause destruction.

The visitor and convention bureau – Derry is host city for next year’s UK City of Culture – and DHSS offices were damaged by two explosions following a telephone warning. Dozens of people, including elderly residents in sheltered accommodation, had to flee their homes.

Police said either the Real IRA – the organisation which bombed Omagh in August 1998 killing 29 people – or a group called Oglaigh na hEireann is likely to have been responsible.

Derry police chief superintendent Stephen Martin said: “I can’t understand their logic or what they hope they can contribute. They appear to be cavalier in terms of the risk they are prepared to take.

“When you carry bombs into an urbanised environment, they will know the risk they have taken. They will have scurried off and got themselves safe before making their phone call. They’ll have left the bombs inside bags and you could have had inquisitive young people; people walking their dog or stopping for a chat cut to pieces with bombs going off prematurely.”

Former SDLP mayor of Derry Gerard Diver called on the City Council to organise a mass rally in opposition to the attacks. He said: “If our regeneration process is to have any hope of building a bright new future for Derry, then it is vital that those behind these attacks are given a very clear message that the people of Derry wholeheartedly reject their violent approach, as they have always overwhelmingly rejected violence, from whatever source it came.”

First Minister Peter Robinson and Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness, who were in London earlier this week for the launch of a major new international tourism offensive in Northern Ireland this year, were among politicians and churchmen on all sides who condemned the attacks.

Mr Robinson said: “These were the actions of people who have nothing to offer and seem intent on bringing us back to the bad old days. They will not succeed. Their actions, in bringing disruption and fear to the local community, are reprehensible.”

Mr McGuinness, who lives in Derry, said those responsible must be apprehended quickly and brought before the courts. He added: “Derry has so much to look forward to in the next couple of years, yet some people seem set on causing mayhem and causing as much disruption as possible. These attacks serve no purpose – theirs is an agenda of the past; ours is of the future.”

Police say Real IRA or Óglaigh na hÉireann may have been responsible for two explosions in the centre of Derry

Henry McDonald
20 Jan 2012

Dissident republicans were behind Thursday night’s bombs that rocked the centre of Derry, police have said.

The devices exploded at the tourist centre in Foyle Street and on Strand Road close to a benefits office. Families and businesses had to be evacuated during a security operation to clear the areas.

The Police Service of Northern Ireland’s district commander for Derry, Superintendent Stephen Martin, blamed dissident republican groups for the attacks.

“There’s no doubt the principal line of inquiry will be one of the republican groups – probably either the Real IRA or Óglaigh na hÉireann. I would be surprised if it wasn’t one of those.

“There is a severe threat in Northern Ireland, which means an incident like this can happen at any time and without warning. We are always prepared for this type of thing. CCTV will be a key line of inquiry.”

No one was injured in the explosions, which occurred within 10 minutes of each other. Martin described the attacks as “callous and cowardly”.

Unionist and nationalist parties have united in their opposition to Thursday’s bombings and the ongoing terror attacks in Derry.

The Real IRA has an active unit in Derry, which has been responsible for a number of attacks on symbolic targets across the city. Two years ago the terror group bombed a branch of the RBS-owned Ulster Bank, and last year admitted responsibility for two bomb attacks on branches of the Santander bank. The Real IRA later told the Guardian in an interview it had targeted banks as part of a new campaign against bankers and the banking system.

It has also repeatedly targeted the offices of the UK City of Culture in Derry. Northern Ireland’s second city will become the UK’s European City of Culture in 2013. Hardline republicans reject the notion that Derry, with its nationalist majority, is deemed part of the UK because of the award.

News Letter
7 January 2012

SINN Fein has denied claims from a south Armagh pastor and Basil McCrea MLA that they publicly admitted being in talks with dissidents to win them over to democratic processes.

Pastor Barrie Halliday made the claim on the Kingsmills Road outside Bessbrook on Thursday, during the 36th anniversary of the shooting of 10 Protestant workmen by the IRA at the location.

Mr Halliday told those gathered: “We want to know the truth about what happened that night and we want justice. Why was nothing ever done about it? The politicians are sitting at ease with those who have knowledge about these murders.”

He added: “Conor Murphy and Gerry Adams were in Newry Town Hall a few weeks ago and said they were talking with dissidents and creating an open space for dissidents to come into.”

Speaking to the News Letter yesterday, Mr Halliday said the event was a Sinn Fein ‘roadshow’ on November 19.

“A 30-year-old woman in the audience stood up and said she defended the dissident position. She said that dissidents ‘want to be won over’ by Sinn Fein and wanted to ‘walk out of the meeting converted’.

“Conor looked at Gerry and after a few seconds replied: ‘We are quite aware of the dissidents and their need to be included. We are trying to create a space to include the ones you are talking about, to bring the dissidents into our way forward.’”

But Mr Halliday said this presented “major problems” for him.

“The fact is that the dissidents are holding the country to ransom and they are being allowed to control south Armagh,” he said.

“The 30-year papers showed that all channels were open with terrorists during Margaret Thatcher’s time and we are not going down that route again. What demands are dissidents making that can be made room for?”

UUP MLA Basil McCrea attended the same Sinn Fein event.

He said: “I recall the conversation from both parties along those lines [as reported by Mr Halliday]. I do recall him [Conor Murphy] saying he wanted to make it inclusive.

“And not only am I comfortable with it, but I expect them to. If Sinn Fein is signed up to democracy then they should be persuading people who are a menace to society to stop these attacks.”

Sinn Fein denied that it was engaged in talks with dissidents but said it was open to such dialogue.

“Sinn Fein have always stated that we are in favour of dialogue and would be prepared to meet with any group to convince them that there is a peaceful and democratic path to a united Ireland, and that is a path the vast, vast majority of republicans are on,” said a spokesman.

By Tim McKenzie
5 January 2012
**Via Newshound

Republican dissidents are in “uproar” over an attempt by a murder suspect to link the son of Dominic ‘Mad Dog’ McGlinchey to the killing of two British soldiers, the Herald has learned.

Supporters of Dominic McGlinchey Junior are furious over the bid to blame him for driving the getaway car in the murder of two British soldiers in the north two years ago.

They have also claimed that McGlinchey Junior rejected a plea from supporters of republican prisoner Colin Duffy to agree that his name be read out in court as the Police Service of Northern Ireland’s suspect in the case.


A fortnight ago, Duffy’s defence barrister Barry MacDonald told a court in Antrim: “Police hold reliable information to indicate that a son of Dominic McGlinchey Snr was the driver of the vehicle which was subsequently recovered by police and was used in the fatal shooting of two soldiers.”

Duffy is one of two men charged with murdering British army sappers Patrick Azimkar and Mark Quinsey outside Massereene barracks in 2008.

A supporter of McGlinchey Junior said the court claim has caused “uproar, outrage and anger” within republicanism.

McGlinchey’s father was one of the most notorious terrorists of the Troubles and in the mid-1980s became Ireland’s most wanted man.

The self-confessed INLA murderer led the terror group during its bloodiest period.

The original ‘Mad Dog’ died in a hail of bullets in Drogheda 18 years ago. He was gunned down in a revenge attack by a South Armagh family who blamed him for murdering their brother-in-law during the 1980s.

That killing was witnessed by Dominic Junior who watched his father being shot dead while he tried to make a call from a Drogheda phone booth.

Those backing his son described the decision to name him in court as “felon setting.”

McGlinchey Junior has denied the allegations made in court and said that since they were made public he has lost his job in Co Derry.

One of his supporters told the Herald: “Before the trial, a message was sent out of Maghaberry jail that Colin Duffy wanted to know if it was okay to state in court that the police had Dominic Junior as their main suspect.


“Naturally, Dominic said absolutely not and he thought that as the end of it. He couldn’t believe it nor could most republicans when they heard these claims made during the trial.”

He said there was anger towards Duffy over the attempt to bring McGlinchey Junior into the frame.

Duffy is currently on 24-hour lock-up inside Maghaberry prison in the north and is on a no-wash protest against his incarceration in the jail.

The Lurgan republican, along with Brian Shivers, denies involvement in the Real IRA double murder.

6 Jan 2012
**Video onsite

A soldier who discovered a dissident republican bomb inside his car may face disciplinary action from the Army for ignoring personal security orders.

It is understood the device was planted when he left his car open outside his girlfriend’s home in Blackdam Court in north Belfast’s Ligoniel area.

The soldier found the device while cleaning the car before going to pick up a child from school on Thursday.

It is understood the device contained a trip wire attached to the seat belt.

The soldier is from Scotland and is not based here, but was visiting his girlfriend and is believed to have been staying at the house, which is in a nationalist area, for a number of weeks.

PSNI Chief Inspector Andy Freeburn said if the bomb had gone off the soldier, and others in the vicinity, could have been killed.

“This has been a despicable incident,” he said.

“The initial assessment we received from the Army Technical Officers was that, if it had detonated as intended, it would have killed the occupants in the vehicle. And anybody surrounding the vehicle could have been killed or seriously injured.

“We are talking about a time where, in a built up area, many children aren’t back to school yet after the holidays and this could have been an absolutely horrendous start to the new year.”

He said the soldier was not based in Northern Ireland, but had been visiting. He pointed out that other people had also used the car, and said it may have been left unlocked overnight.

He appealed for anyone who saw the car on Wednesday night or Thursday morning to contact the police.

North Belfast MP Nigel Dodds described the attack as an “appalling incident”.

“It was designed and targeted to kill a particular target, and it’s emerged now, a serving soldier. This bomb was placed in an area which could have caused a lot of damage to property and the lives of residents.

“The people who carried this out were clearly intent on murder and entirely reckless as to who else would die along with their intended target.”

Mr Dodds said the vigilance of the soldier had been “one of the main factors” in saving his life.

Sinn Fein MLA for the area Gerry Kelly described the car as a “party car”.

“My understanding is that there was a number of parties going on and the driver of this car hadn’t been to sleep. I think the car had been left open on a number of occasions,” he said.

“We could be looking at a terrible tragedy. We could have been looking at not one death but a number of deaths this morning.

“It entirely endangered not just the soldier but the passengers who may have been in the car at different times during the night and also the community. That has to be condemned.”

The security alert caused a lot of disruption for people living in the area.

About 60 residents were moved from their homes, but have since returned.

On Thursday night, one resident said: “We can’t get into the house, the child should be in bed. But the worst devastation is that if someone got hurt. Complete inconsideration for the locals.”

Another local said: “The thought of a bomb in the street. Just scary, with the kids would have been out playing, sometimes, at that time of the morning.”

DUP MLA William Humphrey said: “This was a very reckless indiscriminate planting of what seems to be a viable device in a built-up area.”

The device was dealt with in a controlled explosion.
5 Jan 2012

Dissident republican group Óglaigh na hÉireann says it is behind the bomb which was planted inside the car of a serving soldier in north Belfast.

Army bomb experts removed the viable device from the car during a security operation in the Black Dam Court area off the Ligoneil Road on Thursday afternoon.

In a statement made to security journalist Brian Rowan, Óglaigh na hÉireann claimed the booby trap device was placed under a seat in the vehicle and was connected to the seat buckle.

“Belfast Brigade Óglaigh na hÉireann claim responsibility for the bomb attack on a serving British Soldier in Ligoneil”, the statement reads.

“Our Volunteers got inside the car and placed the explosive device under the seat with a trap wire running to the seat buckle,” the statement added.

Residents were evacuated from their homes after the suspicious object was found in the car.

A controlled explosion was carried out on the bomb, which has been taken away for further examination.

North Belfast DUP MLA William Humphrey has condemned those responsible for the attack.

“It is disgraceful and utterly appalling, in this day and age, that there are those who are prepared to intimidate and kill to advance their own criminal purposes and warped political ideology,” he said.

“They must be given no hiding place and I would urge anyone who can help the police to bring them to justice to pass on whatever information or suspicions they may have,” he said.

The security operation ended on Thursday evening. A police spokesman said residents would be allowed to return to their homes “as soon as possible”.

Bobby Sands mural photo
Ní neart go cur le chéile


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