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Farmer savagely beaten after refusing to bow to dissidents' extortion

By Jim Cusack

Published 06/07/2015

Defiant: Kevin Conlon
Defiant: Kevin Conlon

Dissident republicans are running a brutal extortion racket along the south Armagh border.

The gang is responsible for at least one vicious assault this month, in which a man was attacked by three members of one of the gangs using the cover-name, 'Real IRA'.

Their victim, Kevin Conlon, has called for greater security along the border, saying that "people shouldn't have to put up with this carry-on".

Mr Conlon had stopped to attend cattle on his land near Cullaville on the Armagh-Louth border on June 9 when he was attacked by a three-man gang.

"I don't think they were intending to target me as I was only there by chance. They must have been passing by chance and saw me going to look at the cattle. They must have seen me from the road.

"Two of them came into the field and this fellow stabbed me three or four times. Then they hit me with a Stillson wrench. They broke a bone in my face and my left leg and my arm was broken.

They were round here last Halloween demanding money, but I wouldn't give them anything. I was expecting an attack then, but it never came.

"It shook me up and I'm battered and bruised, but I won't be giving them anything."

Mr Conlon runs a motor-parts business and is a small farmer currently building a home for himself, his partner and their young child.

Local people said Mr Conlon is highly thought of as a hard-working, decent young man and that there is outrage over the attack.

Gardai are investigating.

It is understood the suspects are well-known to gardai and that they had previously been linked to the 'Real IRA' based in Dundalk and north Louth.

But the group has been largely broken up by Garda and PSNI actions.

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