Belfast Telegraph

Dissident murders are a reminder of a peace unfinished

BY BRIAN ROWAN

The two vigilante killings this week are a tactic from an old book. Turn the pages back almost 20 years and you will find similar shootings carried out by the IRA under the title Direct Action Against Drugs.

In the hands of dissidents, the title became Republican Action Against Drugs.

That faction is now part of a wider terror coalition among whose ranks you will also find those who once operated under the Real IRA banner as well as a number of so-called 'independents' who were not card-carrying members of any of the dissident organisations.

The group also includes those responsible for the gun attack on soldiers at Massereene Barracks, and the killings of Constable Ronan Kerr and prison officer David Black.

Now, with these latest shootings, the dissidents are trying to present themselves as vigilante-style community protectors.

An MI5 assessment given earlier this week stressed that the vast bulk of dissident activity is detected and disrupted, but there are always gaps where dissident factions can slip under the radar.

However, the two shootings do not represent any change in the overall threat assessment.

These men were easy targets. They lived in communities where they would have been well-known and their routine was an open book.

But the shootings are a reminder of an incomplete and unfinished peace; a reminder that the dissidents, under their many titles, are still out there.

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