New armed group declares readiness
New armed group declares readiness

A man described as a spokesman for the Oglaigh na hEireann group has said that it is made up principally of former members of the Provisional IRA and denied it is linked to the ‘Real IRA’.

The little-known republican armed group which claimed a 300lb car bomb abandoned in County Down earlier this month said it was destined for Ballykinler British Army base.

A similar device was bizarrely found last September in a south Armagh hedgerow by prominent anti-republican lobbyist Willie Frazer.

The spokesman for the group told a Belfast-based newspaper this week: “Had we got that bomb into Ballykinler then we would have been looking at large scale destruction and military casualties and that was our intention.

“There was a last-minute problem with the plan and the operation had to be abandoned.

“The bomb was driven to a rural place to reduce any risk to civilians and a warning phoned.”

The spokesman for the group also denied being connected to a previous County Tyrone organisation using the ‘Oglaigh na hEireann’ name, the traditional Irish language title for the IRA and usually abbreviated in the media as ONH.


In the highly unusual interview, the spokesman spoke about the ONH’s capabilities and claimed it to be the strongest of the republican armed groups.

He said the ONH was formed almost three years ago but have until the past year been mainly organising, training and gathering intelligence.

“We’ve stood back and watched while other groups have claimed responsibility for our operations,” he said.

“That’s a matter for them, we had no need to state publicly what we were about until we were able to demonstrate what we were about.

“For instance the fertiliser bomb mix has been one that all so-called dissident republican groups have been unable to get right over recent years which is why it hasn’t been used to any effect.

“But as Hugh Orde said this bomb was very much viable and so that speaks for itself as to our bomb-making expertise.

“Most groups simply tried doing what the IRA were doing years ago and that wasn’t working.

“We have sat back and over two years have tried and tested until we have perfected our bomb-making ability.

“We have experts in our ranks and that will become apparent in the future.

“As far as numbers go I’m not going to say we have hundreds of volunteers because we don’t, we have turned away more people than we have recruited.

“It’s not about making up numbers, the people we do have come from a number of organisations but they are experienced and committed and we are not compromised in the way other groups have been.

“We have former INLA, and some ex-Real IRA members but most of us come from the ranks of the Provisional IRA.

“Every time Hugh Orde speaks these days he mentions Oglaigh na hEireann, there is good reason for that, he knows we are a very real threat and he is right to be concerned.”


The spokeman also distanced the ONH from speculation that they were a cover for the ‘Real IRA’, an MI5 front or the armed wing of any political group.

“We have former Reals as members yes but that’s the only link we have with them. We also have no connection to the Strabane group who had used the ONH name in the past.

“We have no political wing because we feel that strategy failed republicans in the past.

“Politics and military cannot operate side by side in that way, the ballot box and the armalite policy was a failure.

“We are watching with interest the current sea-change in political opinion and the renewed debate by republicans who feel we have been sold a pup.

“Of course any political developments will be taken on board and we will adapt as and when we feel it is appropriate.”

Carrying out punishment beatings had encouraged members of the republican community to provide previously unavailable support and safe houses, the spokesman claimed.

“Look, we know that punishment shootings aren’t going to solve the anti-social problem long term,” the spokesman said.

“I admit it’s crude but it’s effective and regardless of what the security forces, Sinn Féin or the media might say it’s a policy that has public support,” he said.

“The problem most other groups faced was they didn’t have the support framework needed to be effective.”

“Because we [are taking action] we are going to people now and asking can we use their house and it’s opening doors to us, literally.

“I’m not going to say we have this, that and the other but the fact we are making viable 300lb bombs and have carried out 15 punishment shootings shows we have weapons without us having to shout about it.

“Like most groups we have a mix of stuff, some old and some new.”


Unionist paramilitary groups have said they are refusing to decommission their weapons because of the continued existence of republcian armed groups.

“As far as loyalists are concerned we are not interested, they are not our targets,” the spokesman said.

“We could take out 10 members of the UDA for every member of the security forces we are targeting.

“They are easy hits but the truth is we have no intention of engaging in a sectarian war with the Protestant people.

“If in the future, however, if loyalists were to change tack and target our community we will not be found wanting.

“We will also not be leaving bombs in town centres, Irish republicanism couldn’t take another Omagh, nor would anyone want to revisit that period in history.

“As far as we are concerned our targets are those in the security forces.

“Oglaigh na hEireann will be judged by our actions not our words.”

The interview and the various claims were being viewed with scepticism this week.

Sinn Féin Policing Board member Alex Maskey said such groups had “nothing to offer” the Irish people.

“The facts are that these groups lack any coherent strategy or tactics at furthering republican politics or any kind of republican agenda.”

“The reality is that many of these groups continue to fracture primarily around vested interests and personalities, this particular group is one such example.

“They have nothing to offer the people of this Island. They should cease and they should disband.”

* An anonymous letter left at a Catholic church in Derry claims a republican group is threatening traffic wardens and TV license wardens. The letter was left at Long Tower church on Monday night, claiming to be from the Bogside Republican Action Group and threatening to use force.

Sinn Féin said the letter was likely to be the work of a disgruntled individual and said it was attaching no credibility to the threat.

* A device exploded in south Belfast on Wednesday night. The British Army’s bomb squad were called to Rutland Street off the Ormeau Road after a bang was heard in an alleyway.

In another incident, the Shore Road in north Belfast was closed for a period on Wednesday after a suspicious object was found by construction workers on the roof of a building in Greencastle.

A controlled explosion was also carried out on two devices discovered in Portrush, County Antrim.

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