Belfast Telegraph

Ciaran Barnes: An uncomfortable reality for New IRA... ranks riddled with informers

Information led to the device being discovered
Information led to the device being discovered
Ciaran Barnes

By Ciaran Barnes

Any doubts that the New IRA is as heavily infiltrated by the security services as its Provisional IRA parent have been totally dispelled by Monday's bomb find in Derry City.

Within 48 hours of a New IRA mortar being discovered in nearby Strabane, officers moved into the Creggan estate en masse, quickly locating the command-wire activated device built to kill a passing police patrol.

Senior officers clearly knew what they were looking for and where it was placed - precise information that could have only come from what they describe as a CHIS (Covert Human Intelligence Source).

Outside of security circles, a CHIS is more commonly known as "tout" and be in no doubt the New IRA, like all paramilitary gangs past and present, is filled to the brim with them.

You only have to look at its long litany of botched murder bids to understand this as a fact.

In June, a mercury tilt-switch activated bomb placed by the New IRA under a police officer's car in east Belfast failed to detonate. This was despite the vehicle travelling over six speed bumps as he drove from his home to Shandon Park golf club.

Despite their public bluster, dissidents privately admit that the device had most likely been tampered with and made safe.

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At least on that occasion the New IRA managed to get the booby-trap bomb to stay fixed to its target. Between 2014 and 2017 four similar devices 'fell off' the underside of cars belonging to serving police and soldiers, with two of these incidents taking place in Derry.

Each failed attack creates an increasingly damaging atmosphere of suspicion within the New IRA's ranks, something the PSNI's C3 Intelligence Branch and MI5 keenly exploit.

Not only are CHIS required to report the location of weapons and terror plots to their handlers, they are also told to sow seeds of distrust between members.

Although heavily infiltrated, the New IRA is capable of killing and has been successful in achieving this goal.

The families of murdered prison officers Adrian Ismay and David Black can attest to this, as can the relatives of journalist Lyra McKee who was gunned down in the Creggan estate just five months ago.

Fanad Drive, the spot where she was shot dead, is a mere few seconds walk away from Creggan Heights where the New IRA's latest bomb was discovered.

The 80 officers involved in last Monday's recovery operation were attacked with petrol bombs by a small crowd of young people encoura ged into rioting by New IRA leaders.

This is a standard and cowardly tactic used by paramilitary chiefs on both sides of the sectarian divide - it amounts to 'when the cops come in, send the kids out'. After all they are more nimble and better at throwing than their older and overweight masters, plus if one of the cannon fodder is injured or arrested it will not affect those at the top.

The murder of Lyra McKee is proof of this - she was gunned down by an 18-year-old who was handed the weapon by a 20-year-old.

The New IRA leaders who organised the riot that led to the writer's death were nowhere to be seen on the front lines.

Likewise, they will offer no explanation to the 15 families living on Creggan Heights who were evacuated from their homes on Monday past after the bomb find.

What they will do is put out some pompous statement filled with spurious sound-bites about the 'latest technology', and how they came so close to killing police.

Tellingly though it will make no mention of how the New IRA is riddled with informants, the real reason why its bomb was discovered by police and an uncomfortable reality that it is unable to confront.

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