Vigilante group Republican Action Against Drugs has said that republicans and their families will not be exempt from its attacks.
In a statement, the group claimed responsibility for the shooting of two young men in the Gartan Square area of the Bogside last week.
The pair, cousins Ciaran and Sean McFadden, were shot ‘by appointment’ in an alleyway in the are on Wednesday night. Their families said the men were targeted because of a row with a member of RAAD the previous weekend.
Ciaran McFadden senior, father of Ciaran and uncle of Sean, is a former republican prisoner and comes from a respected republican family in the city. He strongly criticised RAAD following the attack.
Responding to his criticisms, RAAD said; “Others need to realise that because you class yourself as a republican or as an ex-prisoner does not mean that your son or daughter can cause mayhem and sell death to their community.”
The McFadden family denied that either Ciaran or Sean were involved in any anti-community activity.
Wednesday night’s shootings came just hours after a public rally was held in Creggan calling for RAAD to disband and for all threats issued by the group to be lifted. A similar protest was held in Guildhall Square on Saturday afternoon in the aftermath of the shootings.
RAAD said those attending such rallies are being used for political purposes. “RAAD does not have a problem with people holding rallies and going to the press as we do not expect everyone to agree with our actions but the same people should be very mindful that Sinn Féin will use them for political capital and toss them aside when the next big story comes along,” the group said.
Politicians from a number of parties, including Sinn Féin and the SDLP, attended Saturday’s rally in Guildhall Square.
It has been reported that a number of members of RAAD have been attacked in the city in recent weeks and the group has said it will defend its members from any attacks.
“RAAD has stated before and is again restating that if any republican activist is attacked then it will not hesitate to defend them.
“It should now be crystal clear to anyone that RAAD will not be deflected from its defence of Republicans and the weakest of the community,” the group said.
The vigilante group also attacked the media for its reporting of the circumstances around last week’s shooting attack. “The media had carried a number of factual inaccuracies concerning the events surrounding the incident which precipitated our actions,” the statement said.
Meanwhile, threats made against two other young people in the city were lifted at the weekend following interventions from community workers. The statement issued by RAAD made no mention of the threats.
Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness has repeated his call for the group to disband, describing them as “anti-republican.”