The Continuity IRA, which says it has been recruiting and regrouping in the Fermanagh area, has released pictures of one of its armed patrols along a border road. It has claimed the organisation “can operate at any time day or night in south Fermanagh”.
A second photograph shows the CIRA men firing a volley of shots over a monument, also understood to be in the same border area.
Sinn Féin did not comment on the images, but DUP First Minister Arlene Foster said their message of continuing IRA activity was “never acceptable or justified in the past and neither is it today.”
Attention is once again returning to the border through Ireland as a result of stalling by the British government over implementing EU Customs checks at airports and seaports.
Earlier this month, police chiefs from both parts of Ireland, Garda Commissioner Drew Harris and PSNI Chief Simon Byrne came together at a rural border road for a ‘display of unity’. They met on the Monaghan-Tyrone border near Aughnacloy, County Tyrone, before conducting a joint patrol between checkpoints on the border, ostensibly to tackle the coronavirus.
The images of the CIRA patrol are clearly intended to highlight their capacity to operate in public and in broad daylight. They have also recalled a powerful landmine-style attack by the organisation on a PSNI unit in the area last August. The attack was linked by commentators to concerns over a potential remilitarisation of the border area.
At the time, a CIRA spokesperson said the organisation had “regrouped, rearmed, we are just going to continue on again.” On whether Brexit was motivating renewed attacks, he said: “It has to a certain extent, it doesn’t matter what Britain does, we want Britain out of Ireland.
“The likes of Border posts, military checkpoints across the Border, it will give us further opportunity to attack the crown forces at the checkpoints. Our organisation has been preparing for a long time for this.”
The Continuity IRA broke with the Provisional IRA in 1986.
Meanwhile, there has been no claim of responsibility for a shooting in Lenadoon, west Belfast, in which a man was gunned down inside his home. The victim, Kieran Wylie, was shot dead after answering the door in Lenadoon Avenue on Sunday night.
The brutal shooting was similar in style to the gangland killing of Drogheda-based drug dealer Robbie Lawlor in north Belfast last month. That attack was wrongly linked to republicans by some media before they corrected themselves.
Mr Wylie’s family have denied that allegations had been made that the former doorman was operating as an MI5 informer. Reports that the killing was carried out by Óglaigh na hÉireann, a breakaway IRA group which declared a ceasefire in 2018, were being treated with scepticism.
Local Sinn Féin MP Paul Maskey said people were “shocked and angry that anyone would carry out an attack like this when the community and the emergency services are facing the challenge of the Covid-19 pandemic.
“Those involved in this act have absolutely no place in our community, they must cease their anti-community activities and get off the back of the people of west Belfast,” he said.