The north’s Deputy First Minister has called on vigilante group Republican Action Against Drugs to disband.
Martin McGuinness also called on RAAD to lift all threats against young people in Derry.
“RAAD have nothing at all to do with Irish Republicanism. As oppressors of the community in Derry they are anti-Republican. There is a groundswell of support in the city for RAAD to get off the backs of our community. That is now what needs to happen,” he says.
Mr McGuinness’s comments come only days after around 1000 people gathered in Derry’s Guildhall Square to call on the group to disband.
The public protest was organised by the ‘RAAD - Not In Our Name’ group and was attended by MLAs and councillors from both Sinn Fein and the SDLP.
“RAAD are a tiny group of people. They are not representative and are not accountable to anyone but themselves. They are driven entirely by ego not by any desire to tackle drug abuse in Derry or anywhere else,” Mr McGuinness says.
He says there is also a “very strong perception that some individuals associated with RAAD have profited financially from those involved in the drugs trade.”
Last week RAAD, who has also claimed responsibility for the murder in Buncrana of Derry man Andy Allen, issued threats against four young men in the city.
Two of the men were shot in the ankles in the Bogside on Thursday evening but a community worker associated with the Rosemount Community Centre revealed on Friday evening that the threat against the other two men had been lifted after negotiations.
The group has also claimed responsibility for the murder in Buncrana of Derry man Andy Allen.
“Shooting young people who have become addicted to drugs or threatening them from their homes does nothing to tackle this very serious issue. Indeed it makes the situation worse. In the most recent incident in Derry, RAAD shot two young people from a prominent Republican family who had no involvement at all in drugs,” the deputy First Minister says.
“Drug dealing can only be tackled through on one hand the PSNI taking decisive action against drug dealers and on the other through proper support for our young people who have become addicted to drugs.
“Those people who lead RAAD and who are well known in Derry need to understand that their activities make no positive contribution whatsoever to improving the lives of the people of Derry. In reality the opposite is the case.
“The necessity for a civilised and progressive approach to drugs and those affected by them is being undermined by the brutal, thuggish and bullying actions of those who use patriotic labels for their criminality. They need to issue a clear and definitive statement removing all of the threats they have issued and disband their group once and for all.”