Belfast Telegraph

Brexit a recruiting tool for dissidents, says Saoradh chief

Interview: Brian Kenna
Interview: Brian Kenna

By Staff Reporter

Hardline dissident republicans see Brexit as an opportunity to radicalise a new generation of Irish youths to take up arms against the British presence on the island of Ireland, according to the leader of Irish republican party Saoradh.

Speaking to the Guardian newspaper, Brian Kenna, who chairs the party, said: "Brexit has been a small pilot light in reigniting that side of physical force to British occupation."

The Dubliner is a former employee of the Health Service Executive (HSE) in the Republic of Ireland and an ex-prisoner.

He was jailed for a foiled IRA armed raid in Wexford before being released in 1995.

Kenna later worked for the HSE's drug addiction services.

After he was caught carrying notes from dissident prisoners in jail to the leadership in Northern Ireland, he was jailed in 2017 for IRA membership.

Kenna subsequently lost his job, but on his release he was elected chairman of Saoradh.

"Every generation, going back 800 years, Irish republicans have confronted British occupation," he told the Guardian.

"I don't see any reason why that's going to stop. Brexit is a huge opportunity.

"It's not the reason why people would resist British rule, but Brexit just gives it focus, gives it a physical picture. It's a huge help."

"The republican movement is very adaptable.

"Necessity is the mother of invention.

"Young people are now getting involved in an armed campaign without a personal experience of oppression."

Saoradh, the Irish word for 'liberation', was formed in 2016.

The PSNI say the group is closely aligned to the self-styled New IRA terror gang that planted a car bomb at a Londonderry courthouse earlier this year.

Police suspect the paramilitary organisation was behind three days of terror, hijackings and disruption in the city in January.

The group was also responsible for the murders of prison officers David Black and Adrian Ismay.

Last year, the PSNI in Craigavon said Saoradh was linked to drug-dealing after the group encouraged attacks against police officers.

In January this year, Saoradh began legal action against the social media giant Facebook, claiming it had removed pages from the site at the behest of British security agencies.

Although seeing Brexit as a useful propaganda and recruitment tool, Saoradh's members are also opposed to Ireland's membership of the EU, which they see as a club for capitalists and something that undermines the country's sovereignty.

The Saoradh leadership last year said they hoped Brexit would be "as hard as hell", adding that they were backing the move because it would "quicken the end of one of the most repulsive and destructive nations that has ever existed".

The group has also vowed to exploit any visible hard border in Ireland to gain support.

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