What the dissident republicans are up to. Discuss. Previously: IMC on Loyalist Paramilitaries
Dissident Republicans Generally
3.2 As in our previous report, we find that dissident republicans have undertaken a number of activities which we cannot at present attribute to a particular group. It is important nonetheless that these activities are exposed, and we will offer more precise attributions in future reports if we are able to do so. We also observe in this context that one feature of dissident republican groups is a tendency for things sometimes to be personality-driven or dependent on family or local allegiances, rather than on ideology. In the case of CIRA and RIRA, this can lead to co-operation between the two groups at a local level. Dissident groups also have different areas of geographical influence, which may lead to one seeking the assistance of another in an area where it is unrepresented.
3.3 Dissident republicans were responsible for 2 hoax devices in early October and one at the end of November, all directed at the police or military. It may be that in some cases these, or other hoaxes which we are able to attribute to one group and refer to below, have been used so as to observe how the security forces react, and so perhaps to facilitate future attacks on them. We believe that dissidents continue to acquire intelligence which might serve their purposes, and that they continue to plan for future attacks, for example by identifying targets.
3.4 Dissident republicans were also responsible for other devices directed at civilian targets: one viable bomb at the end of November at Belfast City Hall and two hoaxes at the same time at the home of a senior member of the SDLP. Dissidents generally continue to use violence as a means of settling internal disputes and imposing discipline, and in an effort to exert control within local communities.
3.5 On this occasion, for the first time, we report 2 further dissident groupings. One – styling itself as Óglaigh na hÉireann (ONH) – has splintered from CIRA and the other – describing itself as Saoirse na hÉireann (SNH) – is composed of disaffected, and largely young, republicans, mainly from the Belfast area. ONH was, we believe, responsible for one assault and has been seeking to recruit former members of RIRA. It also undertook an armed Post Office robbery. SNH claimed responsibility for 2 hoax devices in September. It remains to be seen how and to what extent these new groupings develop; previous experience with splinter dissident groupings indicates that they might not necessarily be long-lasting. We will include any further relevant information in future reports.
Continuity Irish Republican Army (CIRA)
3.6 In our Seventh Report we described CIRA as a dangerous organisation which was active and intended to remain so. It had sought to procure and improve weapons; some members had received training; and it had mounted hoax and real attacks. We believed it was capable of continuing attacks although it had not recently shown itself capable of a sustained campaign.
3.7 CIRA has continued to be active over the 3 months under review. It was responsible for a hoax device placed under the vehicle of an officer in the RIR in October. It considers members of the police and military as priority targets and it remains its aspiration to undertake attacks on them. We believe that CIRA planned a campaign of viable and hoax bombs against private and commercial as well as military targets. We think it probable that the organisation was responsible for planting 4 explosive devices in the period under review, one against an Orange Hall, and for hoaxes at commercial premises and the Down Royal Race Course. It instructed some members of ONH, the new grouping which has splintered from CIRA, to leave Northern Ireland.
3.8 The organisation continues to seek to develop its capacity. Members of some units have received training and it continues its efforts to recruit members. The organisation continues to experiment with and to develop equipment and it is has attempted to acquire munitions. We conclude that CIRA remains a threat; that it will continue to mount real and hoax attacks; and that it will continue to plan violence and to seek to enhance its capacity.
Irish National Liberation Army (INLA)
3.9 In our Seventh Report we said that INLA had recruited and trained new members; had been responsible for shooting and bombing attacks; and continued to be engaged in organised crime. We concluded that there had been some increase in the organisation’s use of violence and that there remained the threat of its more active involvement, although at that time the level of activity was not high.
3.10 The picture remains broadly the same. INLA has continued a low but potentially serious level of activity. It deployed weapons for defensive purposes in September following the Whiterock riots. It continues attempts to recruit members, undertook at least one unreported assault and was responsible for an arson attack in Strabane on the home of a member of a District Policing Partnership. It was also behind a number of vehicle hijackings in the same area. We believe that INLA remains involved in organised crime, including drugs and smuggling. During this period the PSNI, in the course of investigations into money laundering, recovered an INLA weapon, documents and computer equipment. We conclude as before that the threat of the organisation’s more active involvement remains although its present capacity for a sustained campaign is not high.
Real Irish Republican Army (RIRA)
3.26 In our Seventh Report we said that RIRA continued to be the most active of the dissident republican groups. It continued to recruit and train; had sought to improve its capacity in weapons and explosives; was responsible for real and hoax attacks; and had targeted members of the security forces. We concluded that it was violent, dangerous and determined.
3.27 In the 3 months under review in this report RIRA – within which there are two factions – has continued to seek to enhance its capacity as a paramilitary organisation. It has sought to develop its capacity to acquire intelligence, particularly on the security forces. It continues to develop its equipment and to seek both to recruit members and to acquire munitions. Some parts of the organisation are working on a long-term strategy and are focussing on the training of members.
3.28 RIRA has also undertaken acts of violence. As we said in our previous report, we believe that members of the organisation were responsible for the outrageous and very violent assault in September on Denis Bradley, the Deputy Chair of the Policing Board. It continues a campaign of intimidation and violence against those it views as anti-social, such as drug dealers, and has threatened to exile such people. It was responsible for more of the dissident republican assaults of which we are aware than other groups, including that on two loyalists in an incident not reported to the police and so not included in official figures. Its involvement in organised crime continues, and is exemplified by the arrest in November of three members, resulting in the recovery of some two million contraband cigarettes.