The New IRA has said it will not abandon its armed resistance, while another republican armed group, Óglaigh na hEireann, has warned it would respond to loyalist paramilitary attacks.
In a statement issued ahead of the Easter commemorations, the New IRA paid tribute to its imprisoned comrades and made clear it will not abandon the principle of armed struggle.
It said it has continued to recruit new members and that its operational capacity and techniques have developed.
“The Irish Republican Army has undoubtedly faced challenges during the global pandemic and are by no means unique in this regard,” the statement said.
“However, this has provided opportunities for evaluation and reorganisation while continuing to recruit volunteers. Likewise our operational capacity and techniques have developed further.”
The statement added: “While others continue down the road of treachery and collaboration with Britain, the IRA and the wider Republican Movement recognise that in the context of occupation and the denial of national self determination that armed resistance is necessary and legitimate.
“This fundamental principle, as exemplified by the revolutionary forces of 1916 cannot and will not be abandoned by those of us committed to realising the ultimate aim of a 32 County Socialist Republic that our martyred dead and their families sacrificed so much to achieve.”
Meanwhile, another breakaway IRA group, Óglaigh na hÉireann, has threatened to end its ceasefire and target loyalist leadership figures if nationalists or republicans are attacked.
The threat comes after unionist paramilitaries carried out recent bomb hoaxes over Brexit’s Irish Protocol, which is designed to prevent the return of a hard border through the island of Ireland.
In one incident the 26 County Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney was forced to abandon a peace building event in north Belfast after a van driver was forced to drive a device to the venue.
At an Easter commemoration in Belfast at the weekend (pictured), masked members of Óglaigh na hÉireann, which called a halt to its armed campaign in 2018, said it would take action to defend the community from loyalist attackers.
The commemoration, which unusually featured an all female colour party with their faces covered, was addressed by three masked republicans dressed in dark clothing.
“We witnessed the continued lack of leadership in Unionism. We continue to monitor the activities of UVF and UDA in light of recent actions, and if Loyalists target Republican and Nationalist communities, we will target Loyalist leadership figures,” their statement said.
“But we are careful not to be drawn into the British strategy of a sectarian conflict”.
The statement was issued during a commemoration organised by Republican Network for Unity at Milltown Cemetery in Belfast.