Belfast Telegraph

New IRA is assessed as the biggest terror threat since Provos

By Tom Brady

The dissident group linked to the murder of Lyra McKee, the New IRA, is assessed by the PSNI and Garda intelligence as posing the biggest terrorist threat on the island of Ireland since the Provisional IRA.

The group, which has a stronghold in Londonderry, was formed in 2012.

It followed an alliance of former factions of the Real IRA, the Derry-based Republican Action Against Drugs (RAAD) and republicans elsewhere, who had largely remained unaligned up to then because of the level of infiltration by the Garda and PSNI of the existing dissident groups.

The Real IRA had been highly active in the Derry-Donegal region and had formed links with the group's section in Dublin when it was led by Alan Ryan.

Ryan's murder was followed by a shake-up in the Real IRA in the capital and the reformed group was taken under the control of Tallaght-based Kevin Braney before it merged into the New IRA.

Braney's life sentence for murder dealt a major blow to the New IRA as he had been regarded by anti-terrorist officers as its most important figure.

Most of its terrorist members are located in the border counties and in Dublin, with a smaller grouping in Cork.

They are mainly involved in providing logistical support for active units involved in terrorist attacks in Northern Ireland, supplying explosives and arms as well as vehicles and safe houses while also raising funds through robberies and extortion.

The New IRA is also assessed to be more advanced technologically in developing explosive devices than any of the other IRA renegade groups and has become more skilled at counter-surveillance as a result of undergoing training in the Czech Republic, Slovakia and, possibly, Poland.

Since the start of the year the group has been planning to exploit Brexit uncertainty by stepping up its campaign in Northern Ireland, with particular focus on security targets.

The group was responsible for the murder of prison officer David Black, who was shot dead as he drove to work at Maghaberry Prison in 2012. It was also blamed for the death of prison officer Adrian Ismay after a bomb exploded under his van outside his home in Belfast in 2016, and another under-car bomb victim, Constable Ronan Kerr in Omagh in 2011.

Some of its members were also linked to the murders of off-duty British soldiers Mark Quinsey and Patrick Azimkar as they took delivery of a pizza outside Massereene Barracks in Antrim.

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