Belfast Telegraph

RIRA mount new intimidation war

DISSIDENT republicans in south Down are suspected of mounting a new campaign of intimidation against elect ed representatives, after an incident in which shots were fired near the home of an SDLP councillor.

DISSIDENT republicans in south Down are suspected of mounting a new campaign of intimidation against elect ed representatives, after an incident in which shots were fired near the home of an SDLP councillor.

The former chairman of Down District Council, Peter Fitzpatrick, has said he believes the late-night incident, is an attempt to silence him.

The security forces are now trying to establish if there is a connection to another incident nearby, in which a bomb was uncovered at the roadside near where a Sinn Fein member of the council lives.

The PSNI initially said the blast bomb had been left at the Hilltown Road, near Bryansford, in a bid to kill their officers, but it is suspected the Real IRA has cranked up its campaign in the area against nationalist councillors, and the attack on the home of Mr Fitzpatrick in the dissident heartland of Kilcoo, near Castlewellan, was sanctioned by the group's leader.

It was the terror chief's response to public comments made by the SDLP man, after the earlier bomb find.

Mr Fitzpatrick had warned young people not to allow themselves to be "sucked in to do the dirty work of the godfathers".

"I see this incident, in which three shots were fired close to my home, as an attempt to intimidate elected representatives," he said.

"I believe in what I do. I represent people in a peaceful and democratic way, and it is important the principle of democracy is maintained."

Security sources have said the Real IRA is re-organising and training in the Castlewellan area, after a serious setback last year.

The penetration of the organisation was so deep, its leader - who carried out the Holy Week bombing in Downpatrick, which claimed the lives of four UDR soldiers - ordered a halt to operations in a bid to flush out an informer in the ranks.

The freeze on operations by the most active terror cell in Northern Ireland, was only recently lifted.

Now it is feared the dissidents in south Down have managed to recruit a number of young, disaffected Provisional members and have access to a broader range of weapons, including a rocket-launcher.

slnews@belfasttelegraph.co.uk

Daily News Headlines Newsletter

Today's news headlines, directly to your inbox.

Popular

From Belfast Telegraph