Belfast Telegraph

Dissident republican posters threaten PSNI officers

By Allan Preston

Posters featuring a Continuity IRA warning to police in Omagh may be directly linked to a recent threat to drug dealers from masked men, a local Ulster Unionist councillor has said.

The chilling paramilitary posters were erected at least a week ago in the Mullaghmore area.

They show the silhouettes of two gunmen with the words 'CIRA, PSNI beware'.

Earlier this month an anonymous paramilitary group issued a statement to the Ulster Herald threatening to go to "extreme lengths" to prevent drug dealing in Omagh, including "kneecapping" or "executing".

The statement was accompanied by an image of three men wearing balaclavas behind a desk with a double-barrelled shotgun, handgun and ammunition.

It followed the death two weeks earlier of 19-year-old Emma Doogan in her Omagh flat following a suspected drugs overdose.

Chris Smyth said he believed the two threats were part of a "perverse attempt" by dissident republicans to usurp the PSNI in the area.

"These signs are disgusting and wrong," he said.

"While Mullaghmore is a predominantly nationalist area, I don't think people here will be standing for this.

"There's been republican-style paramilitary groups coming to the fore recently in Omagh. One announced itself in the last two weeks, not naming themselves but saying they were going to kill all the drug dealers in the town.

"So these signs aren't happening in a vacuum, the two incidents are in some way linked."

As the posters are not on council land, Mr Smyth has requested a meeting this week with the Housing Executive and other relevant agencies to find a way to remove them without causing community tension.

"There has to be an acceptance from everyone in society that these are wrong and everyone has bought into the idea the police are the legitimate forces, and men with shotguns don't run the streets anymore," he said.

Sinn Fein councillor Marty McColgan said he would be speaking to resident groups about the matter, adding: "We don't want to see signs or graffiti like this anywhere."

Independent councillor Joanne Donnelly said she was disgusted the signs had appeared in Mullaghmore, a neighbourhood renewal area that has undergone extensive rejuvenation in recent years.

"Anything like this should be condemned, there's no place in society for that anymore," she said.

"It would be a very small minority looking to intimidate people with these posters; it's ridiculous that they're even trying it."

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