Graffiti appearing to support a newly formed dissident republican organisation has appeared in the Bogside area of Derry over the weekend.
Slogans reading ‘IRA - We’re back’ were daubed on walls in the Lecky Road and Westland Street area over the weekend following the announcement that a new group - calling itself the IRA - had been formed by the coming together of existing dissident republican groups the Real IRA (RIRA), Derry vigilante group turned dissidents Republican Action Against Drugs (RAAD), and a independent republican group which is believed to have carried out the murder of Catholic PSNI officer Ronan Kerr.
The existence of the new group was made public on Friday by a statement issued by its ‘Army Council.’
It said the groups have decided to come together and used the name ‘IRA’ and that the existing groups will be disbanded and their structures assumed into the new organisation.
In its statement, the new group said the existing three organisations “have come together with a united structure under a single leadership subservient to the constitution of the Irish Republican Army.”
Security experts have claimed that the new group has several hundred members. It does not include members of the Oglaigh na h’Éireann or the Continuity IRA.
The group said the people have been sold a “phoney peace” and only a British military withdrawal will remove the “necessity” of armed action.
“It is Britain, not the IRA that has chosen provocation and conflict. The IRA’s mandate for armed struggle derives from Britain’s denial of the fundamental right of the Irish people to national self-determination and sovereignty.
“So long as Britain persists in its denial of national and democratic rights in Ireland the IRA will continue to assert those rights,” the group said.
Despite the appearance of the graffiti in Derry, the new group is not thought to have widespread support in nationalist and republican areas. Some commentators have claimed that the coming together of the groups, while it may increase the capacity of dissident republicans, is a sign of weakness rather than strength as the existing groups are coming under increasing pressure from the PSNI.
Local politicians have condemned the formation of the new group and said it will not destabalise the peace process.
Foyle Sinn Féin Raymond McCartney said the new group do not have public support. “The coming together of several dissident groups is not surprising given the fractious nature of those who are behind such groupings. They have over the past number of years come and gone, split and reformed on an ongoing basis.
“What is very clear from this move is that it is further evidence that they have no strategy and their aims are as clear as mud. RAAD for example have claimed to be an anti-drugs group who have now joined a larger dissident group with different aims. This latest move appears to be more to do with egos and personal fiefdoms than anything else.
“That is not to say that they cannot be dangerous. They have in the past killed people, the majority of whom have been from the nationalist community. However, these actions can take us nowhere. Meanwhile they are happy to risk the lives and liberty of young, impressionable people to achieve nothing. There is no community support for these groups. They need to desist, and they need to realise that they cannot achieve a united Ireland in this way.”
SDLP leader Alasdair McDonnell said; “Neither this new so-called IRA, the Continuity IRA or any other iteration of dissident threat will destabilise the structures and partnerships that have underpinned the relative peace of the last 14 years. These people have no mandate.”