Brexit helps us recruit more supporters, says New IRA
The New IRA has claimed that Brexit is helping the paramilitary organisation to recruit young supporters.
In an interview with The Sunday Times, which took place after the murder of investigative journalist Lyra McKee in Londonderry on April 18, representatives of the New IRA acknowledged there was no public support for its campaign of violence but said they will continue to carry out attacks for propaganda purposes.
"Our armed actions serve one purpose," a representative from the group's army council told the newspaper.
"They are symbolic. They are propaganda. They let the world know there is an ongoing conflict in Northern Ireland.
"As long as you have the British in Ireland and the country remains partitioned, there will be an IRA."
The militant added:"Condemning the IRA is nothing new. We are not interested in being popular. Republicanism has always been a small core of people."
"Brexit has forced the IRA to refocus and has underlined how Ireland remains partitioned. It would be remiss of us not to capitalise on the opportunity.
"It's put the border on the agenda again."
Referencing the death of Lyra McKee, one of the dissidents said: "There is nothing we can say that will offer any comfort to her family. Anything we may say sounds like a hollow apology. There was no planned [paramilitary] operation in the Creggan that night.
"It was our intention to engage with the crown forces when they started searching house in the Creggan that led to the death. That poor woman got caught in the street violence."
The Sunday Times said the interview took months to arrange through discreet contacts and secret meetings with nationalists and their supporters north and south of the border. Its reporter was driven for about an hour in the back of a vehicle from an arranged meeting point to conduct the interview.
The New IRA was formed in 2012 after three of the four main militant nationalist groups merged, the first time since the peace deal that most of the disparate nationalist groups still intent on violence came together under one leadership.
It has been responsible for other attacks since then, including the separate killings of two prison officers. The Sunday Times said the group, which simply refers to itself as the 'IRA', refused to discuss their strength, or whether they planned to increase gun and bomb attacks.
The murder of Lyra McKee, which followed a large car bomb in Londonderry in January that police also blamed on the New IRA, has raised fears that small marginalised militant groups are exploiting a political vacuum in the province and tensions caused by Britain's decision to leave the European Union.
Belfast Telegraph Digital