Pressure is growing to disband a ‘vigilante group’ in Derry after two men from republican families were injured in gun attacks.
The group calls itself ‘Republican Action Against Drugs’, although it has stated that it is a non-political organisation.
It claimed responsibility for the murder in Buncrana of Derry man Andy Allen earlier this month, who they alleged was a drug-dealer, as well as an attack this week in which two young men were shot in the ankles.
“Shooting young people who have become addicted to drugs or threatening them from their homes does nothing to tackle this very serious issue. Indeed it makes the situation worse,” said Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness.
The two latest victims were said to have had no involvement in drugs. Ciaran McFadden’s son Ciaran (20) and his nephew, Sean McFadden, were shot in the legs in Derry’s Bogside area at about 11pm on Wednesday.
Mr McFadden said his son was targeted by RAAD because he was involved in a fight with a member of the group outside a bar at the weekend. He said he was forced to watch his sons get shot after his appeals for mercy fell on deaf ears.
“I cannot believe how thick these people are. They are dangerous.”
Although reputed to involve former members of the Provisional IRA, the group has no links to any other organisation, and their motives remain a matter of public debate. “They are driven entirely by ego, not by any desire to tackle drug abuse in Derry or anywhere else,” said Martin McGuinness.
Others have warned of a history of undercover MI5 involvement in gang activity in Derry, including persistent allegations that undercover British forces were involved in the murder of Real IRA man Kieran Doherty two years ago -- also following drugs accusations.
Kieran Doherty’s uncle said the murder of Andy Allen had “brought it all back like a tidal wave”.
“We would like to call on the security services, MI5, MI6 -- now is the time to come forward,” he said. “Kieran went to the local media and said he believed it was MI5 who were making approaches to him and on the night of his death, they seemed to disappear from the scene.”
Although ruthless in their pursuit of political dissidents in Derry, the PSNI have noticeably not acted against RAAD. There are concerns among republicans that a climate of violence and infighting part of the PSNI/MI5 agenda in the city.
Mr McFadden snr’s brother Brian said all politicians must show leadership against RAAD, and condemned the lack of action by the Stormont administration.
“Martin McGuinness must stop leading from Stormont and lead here on the ground,” he said.
UVF FEUD ATTACK
In other news, the unionist paramilitary UVF has been blamed for a bomb attack which tore off the front door of a house in east Belfast.
The attack is being linked to ongoing tensions within loyalism in east Belfast. It is the second time the property has been attacked since the start of the year -- in January a gunman fired shots at the house from a passing car.
The intended victim was in his home in Sydenham when the bombers struck at about 8.40pm on Friday. The man’s father, William Hamilton, said loyalists had previously threatened to kill his son.
The explosion sent debris over a wide area but no-one was injured. People living in the area were moved from their homes for 15 hours while police carried out searches.
It is believed the bombers left a second device at a car nearby, believing it belonged to their intended victim. Mr Hamilton said it was the second time the house had been attacked this year.
He said he had met the UVF’s east Belfast commander in an attempt to have the threat against his son lifted.
“I went to see him. He shook my hand and promised they wouldn’t get involved,” he said.
“So much for his word. I know this had to be cleared by him. Nothing happens in east Belfast without his say-so.”