The ‘Real IRA’ has admitted killing drug dealers on both sides of the border, according to a Belfast-based newspaper.
The ‘Irish News’ said at the weekend that it had received a statement from the group, in which it said it had targeted drug dealers and criminals for over a decade.
Among the attacks were killings in the 26 Counties previously regarded as gangland executions.
In particular, the group said it killed Matthew Burns, from Castlewellan, County Down, in 2002.
The Real IRA said it was releasing the statement in response to “sensational” tabloid media reports.
For the first time, it also admitted responsibility for five killings in the 26 Counties: Kieran O’Flynn (Cork, 2001), Jason Egon (Dublin,2009), Gerard ‘Topper’ Staunton(Cork, January 2010), Colly Owens (Dublin, July 2010) and Sean Winters (Dublin, September 2010).
Its statement denied tabloid claims it was involved in extortion.
It read: “The IRA has never taken money from criminals then allowed them to continue to operate.
“We have in fact relieved them of their firearms and weaponry then closed down their operations.
“Allegations have been made that the IRA have extorted large amounts of money.
“Anyone with evidence to support these claims should come forward immediately.
“The leadership of the IRA have never sanctioned such actions and anyone using our name to tax drug dealers and criminals will be executed.”
The statement accused drug dealers of “dealing death” to communities and said: “We deal death to them.”
It added: “To those who believe they can escape the reach of the republican movement, we have also executed drug dealers on the continent who believed they were safe having fled the country.
“We have crippled, maimed and exiled numerous others.”
The group said that all its “units” had been put on standby to carry out its orders, and that other republican groups supported its stance.
* Lurgan man Paul McCaugherty is to appeal after he was jailed for 20 years last week following an MI5 sting operation. During the trial, which concluded in June, it was claimed that Mr McCaugherty was the Real IRA’s second-in-command.
The court rejected evidence that Mr McCaugherty had been entrapped by an MI5 agent who called himself ‘Ali’ and a second agent calling himself ‘Amir’. ‘Amir’ had admitted demanding 650,000 pounds compensation and a medal from the Queen in exchange for his evidence.