Irish Republican News · January 16, 2009
[Irish Republican News]

[Irish Republican News]
IRISH REPUBLICAN NEWS: ‘CONDEMN CRIMES’ - ADAMS
‘CONDEMN CRIMES’ - ADAMS
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Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams has accused republican hardliners of demanding protection money from drug dealers and other criminals in the North.

The west Belfast MP said the ‘dissidents’ had targeted innocent families and law-abiding businesses to fund their activities.

His comments come amid allegations of increased activity by established republican groups such as the ‘Real IRA’, as well the little-known ‘Oglaigh na hEireann’.

A controversy arose last week in Mr Adams’s west Belfast constituency over allegations of threats against members of the Community Restorative Justice (CRJ), which is strongly supported by Sinn Féin as a community-based alternative to the court system.

Mr Adams accused the groups of “tarnishing the republican ideology” and has now called on all nationalists to “repudiate their actions” and co-operate with the PSNI police to bring them before the courts.

“There has been an increase in criminal actions by a number of organised criminal gangs who claim to be republican organisations,” he said.

“The gangs involved are targeting innocent families, business people and in some instances other criminals, in particular drug dealers, demanding protection money.

“Some have also carried out attacks on others who have been involved in domestic or family disputes.”

“Their actions are not about furthering the republican goals.

“On the contrary they tarnish the name of Irish republicanism and seek only to further the self interest of those involved.

“This behaviour is intolerable and it must end.

“It includes protecting drug pushers by extorting money made through this reprehensible practice; it involves threatening business people and families in this community.

“I would appeal to anyone who is genuinely committed to republican aims and objectives and who values the legacy of all of those who gave their lives during many years of struggle, to reject these groups.”

NO THREAT

Last week, tension resurfaced between the Community Restorative Justice group and republican armed groups.

The CRJ is engaged in developing officially approved mechanisms for dealing with local anti-social behaviour without the involvement of the courts, chiefly in republican areas. Rival republican groups have long accused the CRJ of operating as the ‘Provo [Provisional IRA] police’.

Both the CRJ and the republican armed groups have said they intend to tackle drug-dealing in their communities. On Wednesday night, a 21-year-old man in west Belfast was the victim of a so-called punishment attack. In a separate incident, a vehicle belonging to contractor working in the area was burnt out.

The increased levels of activity by small armed groups have fuelled new tensions in west Belfast. Recent reports claimed that death threats had been made against members of the Community Restorative Justice (CRJ) in the area by the shadowy ‘Oglaigh na hEireann’ group, which uses the traditional Irish-language name for the IRA.

The ONH have previously been accused of operating solely as a criminal enterprise, and have brushed off broad appeals to disband.

In an unusual statement, the ONH this week said the reports of threats to the CRJ were “unfounded and malicious”. It said it did not consider CRJ to be “an enemy” and added that it encouraged the organisation to “explore ways to make communities safer”.

The statement comes months after three CRJ members, Jim Auld, Jim McCarthy and Harry Maguire, were told of a threat. They were told that they were targeted because of the group’s cooperation with the PSNI.

However, ONH said: “While Oglaigh Na hEireann believes that the efforts of CRJ have been negated by the imposition of paramilitary policing, it does not consider CRJ to be an enemy and encourages CRJ to explore ways to make communities safer, outside of the failed criminal justice system”.

Jim Auld, director of CRJ, said he believed it was “beneficial that this organisation has cleared the air” that it has been positive in its approach in its engagement with me.

However, he said the CRJ still intended to take any information on illegal activities to the PSNI police.

“Anyone who has any information, who is reluctant to come forward with it, should feel free to come to us and they can be sure we will pass that information on,” he said.

‘NO RIGHT TO CRIMINALITY’

Mr Adams said republicans had a right to hold a view contrary to that of Sinn Féin, but he said they had no right to indulge in criminal actions.

“Anyone who is concerned about the welfare, the quality of life and the future of our people should ask these groups to stop,” he said.

“I uphold the right of others to dissent from the mainstream republican position and to oppose Sinn Féin strategy, if that is their view, but I believe there can be no political tolerance for the actions I have highlighted today.

“I would challenge those who set themselves up as supporters of these groups to repudiate these actions and co-operate with the PSNI in ending criminality in our community.”

© 2009 Irish Republican News