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Twenty years after the terrorist ceasefires, but dissident gunmen still roam streets and alleyways of Lurgan estate

Dissident gunmen brandish weapons on the Kilwikie estate on Thursday evening
Dissident gunmen brandish weapons on the Kilwikie estate on Thursday evening
Gunmen in front of an IRA sign in a chilling throwback to Troubles

By David Young

Over 20 years after the paramilitary ceasefires, two masked gunmen strut and preen on the streets of a Northern Ireland housing estate, waving their weapons around with apparent impunity .

The police were nowhere to be seen, according to local people.

This is the savage reality of Lurgan's Kilwilkie estate in 2015.

Political representatives reacted with fury yesterday after these images of armed republican dissidents patrolling the streeets emerged on social media.

Local councillor Carla Lockhart condemned the dissident stunt, and called on the police to move swiftly to deal with the swaggering gunmen.

"It's utterly scandalous that this type of behaviour is still going on -20 years after the ceasefires.

"The police need to act.

"These people were running around the estate like vigilantes with guns acting as if they owned the place.

"This cannot be allowed to continue."

There were also unconfirmed reports of shots being fired during the show of strength, apparently to indicate that the guns were real and not replicas.

Upper Bann DUP candidate David Simpson said the police must investigate dissident republican "patrols" in Lurgan

"It is clear that dissident republicans are attempting to exert some level of control within Lurgan, and posts on social media within the last 24 hours include pictures of armed and masked men purportedly 'patrolling' in Lurgan," he said.

"The offending post has been reported to Facebook for review as it is clearly promoting an illegal terrorist organisation.

"However, the police must investigate whether such dissident terrorist 'patrols' are taking place.

"The entire community must take a stand against such organisations and their attempt to get a grip on communities right across Northern Ireland."

The chilling images of the terrorists appeared on a Facebook page belonging to Republican Sinn Fein.

The caption on the pictures described the images as "Volunteers... patrolling the streets of Lurgan on the lookout for England's armed colonial police and unvercover British soldiers who are operating unwantedly across occupied Ireland."

Mr Simpson also called on all candidates for the Upper Bann parliamentary seat to clearly condemn the presence of masked gunmen on the streets.

The PSNI said it was moving to track down those behind the incident.

Superintendent David Moore, district commander for Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon said: "Police are aware of the image that has appeared on a social media platform, and a criminal investigation is already under way.

"While it is incredibly easy for anyone to manipulate social media platforms or other features of the internet to gain some measure of publicity, when it is done in this manner it can constitute a serious criminal offence, and we have already begun the work necessary to establish the facts, and bring those responsible for criminal acts to justice.

"The contempt in which these people hold everyone in our society, their well-documented recklessness and the futility of their actions is not masked in any way by the posting of a photograph on Facebook.

"The community in Lurgan and across the whole of Northern Ireland should remember that our determination to keep people safe is greater than their determination to do people harm.

"We are more determined than ever to keep people safe by working with the community and not, as in the case of those behind this stunt, against it."

Superintendent Moore appealed for information.

"I would appeal to anyone with information about this or any other social media post of this nature to contact police immediately with what they know.

"With the full support of the public we can be ever more effective in dealing with the terrorist threat."

Belfast Telegraph


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