The use of a rocket-propelled grenade by the Continuity IRA against a PSNI patrol marks a further escalation in their ongoing armed campaign.

Three members of the PSNI police narrowly avoided injury when the grenade failed to detonate in Lisnaskea, in southeast Fermanagh, last weekend.

A PSNI spokesman said the device contained high-powered Semtex explosive.

The attack provoked an extreme reaction in the north of Ireland. The DUP’s Ian Paisley Jr called for a return of Britain’s shoot-to-kill policy of murder and assassination of republicans, while nationalists also strongly condemned the attack.

Both the Continuity IRA and the ‘Real IRA’ have been blamed for at least five other attacks on members of the PSNI in the last year. PSNI Chief Hugh Orde recently admitted the threat posed by republican militants is at its greatest for many years.

The Fermanagh border areas have been a focus for attacks by the Continuity IRA. Last month the group detonated a roadside device against a patrol on an isolated border road. Two members of the PSNI received minor injuries in that attack.

Deputy Chief Paul Leighton told BBC radio he was “worried”. Members of the force deployed in the area “feel very vulnerable”, he said.

The latest attack fueled reports that the Continuity IRA have acquired a variety of weapons and technologies from disaffected members of the Provisional IRA in recent years.

Leighton said the RPG in last weekend’s attack had been previously used in the Provisional IRA’s campaign.

“We believe at this point in time it had probably been stored since then and malfunctioned possibly because it hadn’t been stored in very good conditions,” Leighton said.

He also claimed that it was the first time the CIRA had used Semtex, a powerful explosive commonly used throughout the conflict in Ireland.

“It’s significant in that there was Semtex in that explosive charge. It didn’t go off, but there was Semtex in it,” he said.


Calls by Ian Paisley Jr for “dissidents” to be “shot on sight” in the wake of the attack have provoked a storm of criticism.

The son of the former DUP leader and Policing Board member said that people would accept that a return of the shoot-to-kill policy “is a necessary use of lethal force to prevent dissident republicanism from growing”.

A spokesman for Republican Sinn Féin said Mr Paisley’s “psychopathic outburst” amounted to incitement to murder republicans.

“Of course the British Crown Forces already have a long history of murdering Republicans on sight, but there was always continuity in resistance to British rule.

“The British forces of occupation have no right to be in Ireland, let alone to employ the use of lethal force on Irish soil or against Irish citizens resisting their presence,” said Richard Walsh, Director of Publicity for Republican Sinn Féin.

“Whether Mr Paisley likes it or not, the Republican Movement is growing and will continue to grow.

“Attacks such as the one in Lisnaskea can be ended through a complete British withdrawal from Ireland.”

A spokesman for the 32 County Sovereignty Committee claimed that “a systematic campaign of repression is quickly manifesting itself as the official political response from the teetering Stormont regime to republican separatist activity.

“No doubt as the crisis deepens within Stormont so too will the oppression escalate.”

Sinn Féin’s Daithi McKay said that Mr Paisley’s contributions to public debate “have been increasingly nonsensical and irrelevant”.

“The PSNI is not the unionist militia it replaced,” he declared. “The days of paramilitary policing have gone with the RUC and cannot return.

The party also said it would not “be deflected” by the RPG attack and insisted it possessed a “strategy for Irish unity” which the militants did not.

The Sinn Féin Fermanagh South Tyrone MP, Michelle Gildernew, said many nationalists wondered “just whose agenda these groups are operating to”.

“Those who carried out this attack are feeding off the negativity of elements within unionism who are trying to slow the pace of change and progress, who in turn are feeding off the actions of these micro-groups.”

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