The Irish Republican Socialist Party (IRSP) has called on Sinn Féin to prove that the Irish National Liberation Army (INLA) has been behind a spate of recent paramilitary-style shootings in the city.
The party issued the call after Sinn Féin councillor Paul Fleming claimed several attacks had been carried out by the INLA, which is supposed to have decommissioned its weapons over seven years ago,
Speaking at a meeting of Derry City and Strabane district Council, Colr. Fleming said: “Communties aren’t stupid. Our communties know that, certainly with a lot of the recent shootings in this city, they have been carried out by the INLA.
“They’ve been carried out in pursuit of criminal activity and extortion, extortion of local businesses, and nothing to do with any semblance, which is sometimes offered, of protecting communties or targeting people who are also preying on communities.
“We are also aware that the PSNI are investigating this.
“I think we, as elected representatives right across this city and district, need to, not just condemn, but stand up alongside communities, and where it is applicable expose people who are masquerading as republcians but who are actually acting as gangsters.”
Colr. Fleming was speaking in support of a motion tabled by SDLP councillor Brian Tierney, who proposed that the “council notes with concern the recent increase in shootings in Derry, condemns those responsible for such attacks and commits to meeting with those statutory partners including the PSNI to discuss a way forward to stop this criminality on our streets.”
Colr. Tierney said: “In recent times we have witnessed an increase in violent attacks right across Derry.
“Just a few weeks ago a report from the PSNI showed that the shooting incidents in this city had trebled in the last two years.”
Colr. Tierney said the trend could not be be ignored.
“Our party policy has been clear: bullets have never worked in the past and they will not work now.”
In a statment issued following the meeting, the IRSP reacted to Colr. Fleming’s remarks and accused Sinn Féin of ‘felon-setting’
A spokesman said: “Paul Fleming’s comments are nothing more than ‘felon-setting’
“He has openly admitted that the source for his information is from the PSNI.”
The spokesperson added: “There is no evidence anywhere that the INLA have been involved in any of the recent incidents and we would again ask anyone with information to approach the party. Yet again this councillor exposes his selective memory in this regard. The ‘provisional’ republican movement committed the most serious so-called punishments on people within working class communities.”