Belfast Telegraph

New drive to rebrand dissidents ‘criminals’

Dissident republicans may be officially referred to as “criminals” and “terrorists” in the future under new government proposals.

The authorities are said to be concerned the use of the word “republican” gives dissidents a degree of credibility.

The Sunday Times said the NIO is set to introduce the measures for members of groups such as the Continuity IRA, Real IRA and Oglaigh na hEireann (OnH) amid the severe threat they pose to the security forces.

This includes ‘rebranding’ aimed at removing the word republican to distinguish dissidents from Sinn Fein and influencing opinion in nationalist community. The step has been devised in consultation with civil servants, police chiefs and MI5.

A spokesman for the NIO told the paper: “Calling these disparate criminal groups dissident republicans gives them a status that they don’t deserve.

“They are the enemies of peace and political progress and the language used to describe them should reflect this.”

One term which may be used is “criminal paramilitary gangs”.

Security forces have reported increased terrorist activity on both sides of the border in the past two years.

The Real IRA is said to have been behind last week’s attack on the Players Lounge pub in Fairview in Dublin, which left a doorman with critical head injuries and two customers injured.

They are believed to be the same dissident elements which came close to causing multiple deaths in Lurgan over the Twelfth of July period when they attempted to set fire to the Dublin-Belfast train, with 55 passengers - including women, children and the elderly - trapped on board.

In Dublin, the Real IRA has intimidated large numbers of publicans around the city into hiring their members as doormen.

The innocent doorman, shot twice in the body and once in the head at the Players Lounge on Fairview Strand on Sunday 25 July, is critical in hospital.

Wayne Barrett (31), from Finglas, Dublin was described by friends and relatives last week as a “gentle giant” who had never had any connection with criminals or any republican group.

Equally innocent customers, friends Austen Purcell (22), and Brian Masterson (30), were hurt.

Gardai say the “republicans” behind the extortion rackets in Dublin, Cork and elsewhere are led by ex-Provisional IRA members who moved into racketeering well before the ceasefires of the mid-Nineties were called and the organisation declared itself disbanded in July 2005.

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