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Any attempted Sinn Fein attack risks retaliation from Provos

Ciaran Barnes


Gerard Jock Davison

Gerard Jock Davison

Gerard Jock Davison

Claims that the New IRA is planning to murder a Sinn Fein member in an under-car booby-trap bomb attack should be taken with a large pinch of salt.

Yes, the terror gang is brash and reckless, but its leaders are not stupid.

Any attempt to kill a Sinn Fein member would wake a dormant Provisional IRA that still very much exists and retains arms, primarily for defence purposes.

The New IRA know this and will look at the example of ex-republican prisoner Kevin McGuigan, shot dead by the Provos five years ago in retaliation for what it claimed was the murder of its Belfast commander Jock Davison.

It will also be aware that Ciaran Barker, the prolific criminal arrested in connection with firework attacks on the west Belfast homes of Sinn Fein leaders Gerry Adams and Bobby Storey, was later found lying in an alley with a bullet in his leg.

Let there be no doubt that senior figures in the New IRA, like its Provisional IRA parent, are in the pay of the British security services.

Dissident republicans know that to target Sinn Fein amounts to effectively targeting the Provos, a challenge they are unwilling to undertake despite their grandstanding.

An example of this was in Derry in 2016 when Saoradh spokesman Paddy Gallagher was convicted in court of a "politically motivated" late night attack on a Sinn Fein member's car.

He was severely reprimanded by fellow dissidents who feared a feud with local Provos, later changing his surname from Mellon to Gallagher in an effort to distance himself from the vandalism.

Hardline republicans are blaming "spooks" on being behind the Sinn Fein death threats, describing as "counter-productive" any desire to kill its politicians in the wake of the party's historic election victory in the south.

Let there be no doubt that senior figures in the New IRA, like its Provisional IRA parent, are in the pay of the British security services. There is a distinct possibility that these agent provocateurs are being directed to issue the threats - after all they only serve to weaken the New IRA while eliciting concern and sympathy for Sinn Fein members.

This is something seasoned politician and former IRA bomber Gerry Kelly, who has been told by police that he is a target, will recognise. He says he has been checking under his car for a bomb "for a considerable period of time".

That is prudent as any threat should be taken seriously, especially given the criticism Mr Kelly has faced from dissidents after attending a recent PSNI recruitment campaign.

But what he will also know and take comfort from is that previous threats of this nature have proved empty.

That, for the most part, is down to dissident republicans being fully aware that should they try and kill a Sinn Fein member there are Provos willing to step out of the shadows to hit back.

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