The Real IRA has forced the closure of the main cross-border road and rail links today, after it claimed responsibility for a series of firebomb attacks in Newry last week.
The main Newry to Dublin road was sealed off all day following the bomb warning as a British Army unit examined a bridge near Newry. The cross-border railway line has also been closed all weekend due to bomb warnings.
The alerts appeared timed to disrupt the travel of Sinn Féin supporters to a major hunger strike commemoration rally in Belfast. Republican hardliners have criticised the Sinn Féin leadership for its focus on the 25th hunger strike anniversary and other commemorations ahead of the pursuit of a republican agenda.
The disruption follows the firebombing of a number of Newry businesses earlier this week that targeted a number British-owned retail chain stores. Four were badly damaged or destroyed in a re-emergence of a familiar IRA strategy.
The claim of responsibility in the name of Oglaigh na hEireann [IRA] was made to newsrooms in Belfast on Saturday.
SDLP mayor Michael Carr said afterwards: “The Real IRA should examine their motives. Their cause is not a blow for Ireland, but a blow against their own communities.”
Mr Carr added: “These businesses will be given every support, including attempts to have them temporarily re-located as soon as possible.”
Newry and Mourne Sinn Féin councillor Charlie Casey has called for an urgent meeting of the council’s economic development committee to discuss the attacks.
“Sinn Féin is about working for political, economic and social change. We do not want to see jobs lost or business taken from our city.”