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Fears of retribution by New IRA group after drugs cartel murder

By Jim Cusack

Published 02/05/2016

Shot dead: Michael Barr
Shot dead: Michael Barr

The murder of New IRA man Michael Barr by members of an Irish drugs cartel will inevitably lead to bloody retaliation by the terror group, which has already used a sophisticated under-car bomb to murder a prison officer in Belfast, it has been claimed.

The emergence of a dangerous 'third force' in the Republic's murderous gang war has heightened fears that it is only a matter of time before more innocent members of the public are killed in the crossfire of an increasingly reckless blood feud.

Barr, from Strabane, had been acting under orders from the group to set up a fundraising operation in Dublin - even though this meant receiving money from drug traffickers, just as the Provisional and other dissident IRA groups have done in the past.

Barr was blamed by the Kinahan criminal gang for supplying the AK47-type assault rifles used in the Regency Hotel attack in Dublin on February 5, in which gangster David Byrne was shot dead.

Barr was also a known associate of a short stout Tyrone man wearing a flat cap who was pictured leaving the hotel along with a young Dublin associate of the rival Hutch gang dressed in women's clothes.

The Garda Special Branch, which had Barr before the Special Criminal Court on an IRA membership charge, has kept a lid tightly on the dissident groups, but sources in Northern Ireland say Barr was regarded as an important figure in the new incarnation of the IRA, known as the New IRA, and close to its leadership.

The main concern of police in the Republic is that the group will import its bomb-making capabilities into the Republic to strike back at the Kinahan mob.

The group has re-engineered a magnetic under-car bomb that was originally used in the 1980s by the Provisional IRA and INLA.

The bomb which killed prison officer Adrian Ismay (52) in Belfast on March 4 this year contained Semtex H explosive, which was imported into Ireland by the Provisional IRA from Libya and is now in the hands of the so-called dissidents.

The Garda Special Branch is working closely with the PSNI and MI5 to counter the growth of the New IRA group, but the murder of Mr Ismay showed the terror group is capable of counteracting the high levels of electronic surveillance and large number of paid informers deployed against it.

The prime target of the republican terror group, according to garda sources, is a close associate of Byrne in his late 50s who is said to be directing the 'annihilation' campaign against the so-called Hutch gang in Dublin's northside.

Gardai have said that this man has given orders for the Hutch gang to be 'wiped out' over the Regency killing.

While there is concern the republican group could bring their improvised explosive device (IED) skills to bear on the feud in Dublin, some gardai last week said they don't believe the group is strong enough to take on the Kinahan cartel.

One of the reasons Christy Kinahan relocated to Spain was to avoid being targeted by the Provisional IRA, which carried out at least a score of murders of Dublin drug dealers from the 1980s onwards. This was done to force criminals to hand over protection money.

Belfast Telegraph

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