Two republicans in Derry have been told their lives are under threat following the “execution” last week by the Real IRA of senior member Ciaran Doherty.
Both men say they believe that British intelligence services are behind the threats, which they say are aimed at creating division and a smokescreen.
The first letter states that dissident republicans may seek to take some form of unspecified action.
The letter to the second man from the PSNI stated that elements within the ‘Real IRA’ believe him to be an informer.
The family of Mr Doherty have called for calm despite the shock killing.
Speaking at a rally to protest his death, Leeanne Doherty said her brother’s murder had brought shame to the Real IRA and denied hhe had any involvement in drugs.
She repeated the family’s call for an inquiry into the involvement of MI5 in his death.
She said the intelligence organisation had unsuccessfully attempted to recruit her brother as an informer.
“Even as Kieran was attempting to keep his life on track, they persisted. He was filled with anxiety and put in hospital with depression,” she said.
“We know that it wasn’t MI5 who pulled the trigger to kill Kieran. The Real IRA has direct responsibility for his death,” she added.
Republican armed groups in Derry and Ireland’s northwest have a history of suffering from high levels of infiltration by Crown forces as well as bloody internal disputes.
In comments attributed to the Real IRA by the Belfast Telegraph newspaper, a representative of its ‘Army Council’ claimed Doherty had admitted involvement in a cannabis factory in Donegal.
An individual described as a ‘Real IRA spokesman’ said Doherty, who was a prominent member in Derry, had been questioned twice by the group before the night of his killing.
He said that at the second interview, at which Doherty was “court-martialed”, he had “admitted his guilt” after hearing “witness statements” from members of a criminal gang who were allegedly involved with him in the cannabis factory.
The spokesman said that Doherty had been a member of its GHQ [general headquarters staff] and had known the organisation’s rules when he joined.
While Doherty had admitted involvement with the drugs gang, he had denied working for MI5, the spokesman said.
Nevertheless, the IRA believed that MI5 had played some role in the drugs factory which had been set up to “blacken the IRA’s name and link us to the drugs trade which we abhor and oppose”.
The cannabis factory was discovered by gardai at a house in Donegal which was owned by Seamus McGreevy, a founder member of the ‘Real IRA’ who killed himself over a month ago.
The spokesman said that, from its investigation, it believed McGreevy had no involvement in the cannabis factory and was horrified when it was found.
“After the drugs factory was uncovered, the IRA stood down its entire Derry brigade pending the outcome of our investigation,” he said.
“An outside IRA security team moved in to carry out the inquiry. It was an extensive investigation during which many witnesses, including members of the criminal gang involved in the drugs factory, were interviewed.
“Those individuals gave statements saying Kieran had been integrally involved in setting up the whole operation and had actually sourced the cannabis plants.”
The spokesman claimed when Doherty was first interviewed at a paramilitary “court of inquiry”, he denied these allegations. However, it was claimed that on the second occasion when Doherty faced a “court martial” and was shown statements from the gang members, he “admitted his involvement”.
The spokesman said that Doherty had been ordered not to discuss the issue with anybody nor to contact other Real IRA members but had contacted Mr McGreevy as he was having lunch at his sister’s home.
“Whatever Kieran said led to Seamus leaving, returning to his own home, and then hanging himself,” added the spokesman.
The spokesman said the group had “strictly followed the green book”, the IRA’s rulebook which all members endorse, during its ‘investigation’ into Doherty.
He claimed that admitting one of its members had become involved in the drugs’ trade, and then killing him, was “not something we did lightly”.
GARY DONNELLY JAILED
Meanwhile, a leading dissident republican in Derry has been jailed today [Thursday] after losing his appeal against convictions for assaulting and obstructing the PSNI police.
Gary Donnelly was sentenced to seven months over an incident in which his arm was broken by members of the PSNI in November 2007. As part of his appeal, he had accused the PSNI of assault.
His imprisonment is expected to be the subject of a protest in the city on Saturday.