“Members of the group are described as experienced Provisional militants.”

There were earlier reports that “a group of disgruntled republicans recently believed to have defected” from the Provisional IRA “mainstream IRA” could have been responsible for the recent murder of Constable Ronan Kerr.  Although I can’t find the link, I seem to recall Sinn Féin’s Martin McGuinness denying any such recent “leakage”.

Today, various newsites are reporting a Belfast Telegraph exclusive that a “newly-formed dissident Republican group” have admitted to the murder.  The BBC have a response from DUP leader, Peter Robinson. From the breakingnews.ie report

A report in today’s Belfast Telegraph newspaper says a newly formed group made up of former members of the IRA have claimed responsibility for the attack.

The newspaper said it had seen a statement from the group in which it threatened a campaign of violence to try to end what it “British occupation”.

Members of the group are described as experienced militants. They claim that the peace process has failed and that they have taken over the mantle of the IRA.

According to the statement given to the Belfast Telegraph, the group calls itself the IRA and it does not regard its members as dissidents.

The story doesn’t appear to be online yet at the Belfast Telegraph.  But there is an editorial.

Some veteran Provos, active during the Troubles, have now returned to violence, claiming the murder of Ronan Kerr, the young PSNI officer blown up by a booby-trap bomb under his car in Omagh, as well as helping dissident groups in previous high-profile murders and attempted killings.

The concern from a security viewpoint is that these are experienced terrorists who can carry out acts of violence on their own or lend their expertise to the dissident groups.

They have rejected the peace process – their political philosophy is that of the green-tinted fanatics, that the British can be forced out of Ireland through violence. They are unwilling to learn from the republican failures of history or to accept that the majority of former Provos and Sinn Fein have embraced democracy.

They are also unmoved by the huge cross-community groundswell of anger at the death of Constable Kerr.

There is now an onus on Sinn Fein and the former leadership of the Provisional IRA to tell the police what they know about these new dissidents to prevent further bloodshed.

There is a “specialist team of detectives” in place to target those returning militants.

Now that “Adams and the forces of the British Crown in Ireland are entirely united…”

Adds  From the UTV report

“These are not teenagers, these are not youths who don’t know what they’re doing – they are veteran, hardened Provisional IRA activists who are very, very determined and say that they are just going to do now what they’d done before for the Provisional IRA,” [Suzanne Breen] added.

Those responsible for the Omagh under-car bomb attack three weeks ago, in which Constable Kerr lost his life, are now understood to be “very senior” former Provisional IRA men. They’re believed to range in age from their 30s to their 50s.

“They now say that they are totally disillusioned with the peace process and they are committed to armed struggle,” Ms Breen said.

“They don’t see themselves as dissident – they say, while they work with the existing dissident groups such as the Real IRA, Óglaigh na hÉireann and the Continuity IRA, they are mainstream republicans. They actually call themselves the IRA.”

And, from the Slugger archive, “they are doing nothing which the Provisionals didn’t do before them and with the same political rationale”.

Further  There was the recent attempted deviation from the 1998 Agreement…

Update  The Belfast Telegraph report is now online.

In what represents a major split and breakaway in Provisional ranks, they said they had watched as the peace process failed to deliver republican goals, and they had now taken on the mantle of the mainstream IRA.

“The will of Irish republicans to resist the forced occupation and partitioning of our country has not been defeated,” they said. “Irish republicans have continued to organise against the British presence in our country. We continue to do so under the name of the Irish Republican Army. We are the IRA.”

———–

With members across Northern Ireland, the group is led from Belfast, after which they are strongest in Lurgan, Tyrone and south Armagh. They claimed they had given the Good Friday Agreement an opportunity and had watched to see if “a peaceful route toward independence and national liberation would emerge”.

Instead, republicans had experienced “scores of broken promises”. The agreement had not ended “British occupation” nor created “an Ireland of equals” as Sinn Fein had promised.

They claimed “minimum reforms proposed by Patten” and the name change for the police had not altered policing.

The grouping also claimed that not one security law enacted during the Troubles had been repealed and new, even tougher laws on stop and search, and arrest and detention had been introduced.

And the Irish Times notes

Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams said the report of the new group appeared rather “bizarre” and neither he nor his Sinn Féin colleagues had any information about such an organisation composed of former Provisional IRA members.

“What we can say with certainty is that they are not the IRA; the IRA is history,” he said.

Well, that’s all right then…