Any border checks between Northern Ireland and the Republic after Brexit will be legitimate targets for attack, the IRA claimed yesterday.
The Republican terrorists warned they would take ‘armed actions’ against border infrastructure and anyone manning it.
A masked spokesman for the New IRA told Channel 4 News: ‘We are the IRA, as reconstituted in 2012. There is only one such organisation. I have been mandated by the Army Council of the IRA to speak on its behalf.’
The Republican terrorists warned they would take ‘armed actions’ against border infrastructure and anyone manning it. Pictured: A banner in Dundalk, Ireland
He was speaking on behalf of what has become the most violent and active Republican dissident group in Northern Ireland.
The New IRA have been responsible for a number of attacks in recent months, including a car bomb detonated at the courthouse in Londonderry and the shooting of journalist Lyra McKee during a riot.
He was interviewed on condition the his identity would be disguised and his voice would not be recorded.
Asked about the possibility of Brexit creating a ‘hard’ border with new infrastructure such as checkpoints either on the frontier or anywhere in Ireland north or south, the New IRA said: ‘First of all there is no such thing as an Irish border. It’s a British border. Since its formation, since its inception the purpose of the IRA has been to take action against all such infrastructure of British occupation.’
Asked to spell that out, he continued: ‘The IRA is an army. And as an army we are committed to armed struggle for political and social change in Ireland.
A masked spokesman for the New IRA said: ‘We are the IRA, as reconstituted in 2012. There is only one such organisation. I have been mandated by the Army Council of the IRA to speak on its behalf.’ Pictured: The M1 crossing at the Irish border’
‘Bearing in mind any installation or aspects of British occupation within the Six Counties – be it at the border or elsewhere – any infrastructure would be a legitimate target for attack and armed actions against those infrastructures and against the people who are manning them.’
Pressed about it, he said: ‘It’s important to understand that this is a country under occupation by Britain and as in any colonial situation the people have the right there to respond by all means necessary to that occupation.’
The spokesman was then pushed on whether any Brexit deal would be acceptable to armed Irish Republicanism.
Who are the New IRA?
The New IRA is the biggest of the dissident republican groups operating in Northern Ireland.
It has been linked with four murders, including PC Ronan Kerr, who was killed by an under-car bomb in Omagh in 2011.
The group is also linked to the deaths of prison officers David Black, who was shot as he drove to work at Maghaberry Prison in 2012, and Adrian Ismay, who died in 2016 after a bomb exploded under his van outside his home in east Belfast.
The New IRA is believed to have been formed between 2011 and 2012 following the merger of a number of smaller groups, including the Real IRA – the group behind the 1998 Omagh bomb.
It is strongest in Derry, north and west Belfast, Strabane in Co Derry, Lurgan in Co Armagh, and pockets of Tyrone.
This year the group was responsible for a car bomb outside the courthouse in Bishop Street, Derry.
The explosives-laden car was left on the city centre street on a Saturday night in January, and scores of people, including a group of teenagers, had walked past before it detonated.
The New IRA also claimed a number of package bombs posted to targets in London and Glasgow in March.
But he said: ‘Regardless of the form of occupation, whatever kind of border there is, be it soft or so called hard border – that’s irrelevant. We are talking about an illegal occupation here that means the IRA reserved the right to attack those who are upholding that illegal occupation along the border and elsewhere and the illegal partition that goes with it. And those who are upholding that.
‘The EU and the British and the 26 country administration constantly speak about the border as if it s been there two minutes and its only an issue with Brexit. There’s been a border since 1921. It’s been resisted. It is being resisted. It will be resisted regardless of any deal formed around it.’
The spokesman was then asked repeatedly about why the IRA was continuing with armed violence years after a peace process was overwhelmingly endorsed by the people of the island of Ireland north and south.
He answered: ‘First off, the Good Friday Agreement is dead. It was superseded by various other agreements such as the Leeds Castle, St Andrews, Hillsborough deals and others. So the Good Friday Agreement is defunct.’
‘Secondly the Good Friday Agreement was not ratified by the Irish people as a unit, as a whole, but by two separate questions depending on which statelet they lived in.’
The New IRA member was quizzed on why the group persist with armed violence, with negligible support, a political irrelevance and on the wrong side of history.
Yet he replied: ‘On the contrary we are not the wrong side of history . No colony has ever secured its freedom without armed resistance. We have more support than the Conservative Party, but they lord it over us. We also have more support in Ireland than the Labour Party does.’
Pressed again that this comparison is wrong because the Irish people support and vote for Irish parties north and south, he said: ‘Well this is the mainland of Ireland. The IRA is confident that it has popular support for its goal of a 32 County Irish Republic. The political parties you reference are silent about the armed activities of the state. For instance the 25 million pound HQ for MI5 at Palace Barracks.’
‘There are 700 MI5 operatives in Belfast City alone. Every PSNI officer is armed with a Glock pistol or a Heckler and Koch rifle. Contrary to popular belief there are still thousands of British soldiers operating in the six countries. And there are also armed pro-British death squads operating under the flag of Loyalism.’
‘So therefore the IRA will take no lectures on morality, or the futility of violence from those who remain morally in favour, if not tactically.’
What is the timeline of the Northern Ireland troubles and peace process?
British Government first send troops into Northern Ireland to restore order after three days of rioting in Catholic Londonderry
30 January 1972:
On ‘Bloody Sunday’ 13 civilians are shot dead by the British Army during a civil rights march in Londonderry
The Stormont Government is dissolved and direct rule imposed by London
The IRA begin its bloody campaign of bombings and assassinations in Britain
Bobby Sands, a republicans on hunger strike in the Maze prison, is elected to Parliament. He dies a month later
An IRA bomb explodes at the Grand Hotel in Brighton, where Margaret Thatcher is staying during the Tory Party conference
Margaret Thatcher and then Sir John Major set up a secret back channel with the IRA to start peace talks. The communications was so secret most ministers did not know about it.
Tony Blair helps to broker the Good Friday Agreement, which is hailed as the end of the Troubles.
It establishes the Northern Ireland Assembly with David Trimble as its first minister.
With some exceptions the peace process holds and republican and loyalist paramilitaries decommission their weapons
The Queen and Prince Philip make a state visit to Ireland, the first since the 1911 tour by George V.
In a hugely symbolic moment, the Queen is pictured shaking hands with Martin McGuinness – a former IRA leader.
The fatal shooting on journalist Lyra McKee was another talking point.
She was while watching rioting in the Creggan district of Londonderry earlier this year.
He was asked: ‘Will you say sorry?’
He replied: ‘Absolutely. We listened to calls from the Republican base at the time, including but not exclusively Saoradh ((editors’ note this is the legal political organisation close to the group known as the New IRA), who rightly called for the IRA to take responsibility for the tragic loss of Lyra McKee’s life and to apologise.
‘As we stated at the time, the loss of any civilian life in the conflict is a tragedy and we directly apologised at the time to her partner, her family and her friends and on behalf of the IRA I reiterate that apology now.’
The interviewer then said Sara Canning, Lyra McKee’s partner, described the IRA on camera as paedophiles in the sense that they groomed young and vulnerable people in deprived areas like Creggan.
The spokesman replied: ‘Personally I find that comparison is grotesque. Young people have always been the backbone of the Republican struggle. They bring an energy and a vibrancy to it with their activism. young people are not sought out by the Republican movement. They seek it out.’
The questioner returned to the point that if the Provisional IRA had failed to gain its objective after more than thirty years of violence, why does the current IRA think it can succeed for one second.
The masked man said: ‘It’s important to point out when you speak of the Provisional IRA that you assume some of us had no experience of it. Many of our volunteers had lots of experience of the Provisional IRA top to bottom, from the Executive Council, down to command staff, from brigade staff to the rank and file volunteers.
‘That gives our organisation both a valuable insight now. and the benefit of hindsight as to why the Provisional IRA failed in all of its objectives following the abolition of Stormont in 1972.’
‘Whilst many volunteers have experience of that era, the majority of our volunteers in 2019 have no experience of that, in fact were born after 1998.’
Finally, asked about where the IRA was going in the near future, the spokesman added: ‘Republicanism has always gone through peaks and valleys and at this point we remain heavily organised and to paraphrase a phrase of our enemy we are sophisticated and capable and showing increasing sophistication and ingenuity.
‘But this is a period of consolidation and rebuilding. Rebuilding is important, but it’s crucial to realise it doesn’t reduce our operational capabilities.’