British forces may have believed their own propaganda in regard to the status of IRA breakaway groups to judge by their shocked response to an attack on a PSNI patrol in Tyrone last Thursday night, November 17.
In the first such action in over a year, a mortar-type device was fired at a PSNI armoured vehicle. The PSNI said they found a command wire for a rocket launcher during follow-up searches. They reported the device had caused blast damage to their vehicle and left the PSNI men inside “shaken”.
While there was little prospect of the device penetrating the Land Rover’s thick armour plating, the carefully planned attack has shown that the capacity for armed resistance to British rule remains. Despite claims of the physical force tradition coming to an end, armed resistance by IRA groups has continued.
Taking place amid a political vacuum, the latest attack will have given British securocrats pause for thought, particularly in regard to plans to reintroduce a militarised border through Ireland.
A high-profile, histrionic PSNI reaction claimed the incident was ‘attempted murder’ and pointed the finger at the New IRA. However, another group, ‘Arm na Poblachta’ has also been linked to the attack.
Last March, there was extensive coverage of an MI5 claim that the republican threat to British rule in the north of Ireland had declined significantly, and at the time, PSNI Chief Simon Byrne hailed the announcement as “a success”.
Since the weekend, the mainstream media has been struggling to explain how the various breakaway IRA groups, supposedly in retreat, remain undefeated.
The attack appeared to have panicked the authorities, and their concern wasn’t helped when a hoax bomb attack was reported on Sunday against one of the PSNI bases in the Waterside area of Derry.
The PSNI have responded with their usual tactic of raiding and arresting republicans in the area. In a series of violent late night and early morning raids, they arrested six men, all of whom were later released.
Saoradh condemned the raids and the manner in which the children of those targeted were pulled out of their beds by masked and armed police. One family suffered a second such raid within a week, with one heavily pregnant partner of a republican forced out of her home.
Raids and the arrest and detention of republicans have been taking place for years in Derry and Strabane with very little public attention. Saoradh has pointed to the failure of the pacifist nationalist parties to condemn the ongoing human rights abuses in the northwest area..
“Not one shred of evidence was put to any Saoradh members during hours of gruelling interrogating by Crown Force personnel and British Agents,” Saoradh said of those arrested.
They called for “a complete rejection” of British Crown Forces. “Those who continue to advocate this occupying force should publicly state why they support this type of British Political Policing.”