Belfast Telegraph

Martin Dillon: When will New IRA realise cheap sunglasses and berets won't shield them from justice?

A dissident wearing mask, sunglasses and a beret
A dissident wearing mask, sunglasses and a beret

By Martin Dillon

Unless members of the New IRA take to wearing full body suits, the technology available to security investigators will identify them.

Face recognition technology can help authorities assemble profiles of faces based on ear sizes, nose and mouth shapes and the shape and contours of heads.

Body typing is another tool. The dissidents who marched in Dublin will have been studied for their body types, and if any have a peculiar gait, it will be easier to match them against surveillance of known or suspected activists.

This has me wondering how these guys think that wearing a pair of cheap sunglasses, some face netting and berets, which do not hide their hair colouring, are fit disguises. It's laughable.

I am particularly intrigued to know how they acquire their outfits.

For example, is there a paramilitary, terrorist outfitter where they are measured for their jackets, trousers, boots and berets?

Do they parade in front of a full-length mirror to approve their media paraphernalia?

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I recall hearing in the early days of the Troubles that balaclavas worn by some notable gunmen had been specially knitted for them by local women.

I guess the terror business must produce a little industry of sorts, but I am not certain it is as profitable nowadays as it was in the early 1970s, though that could change.

In the 70s, terrorist outfitting was big business because the UDA and the Provos were able to put tens of thousands of followers on the streets and they all needed boots, khaki pants and jackets, as well as the customary mesh cloth netting to partly cover their faces.

Cheap sunglasses, balaclavas and berets were in vogue then, too.

Now that the New IRA has acquired the services of a personal outfitter, one wonders if another outfitter is busy preparing a terror paraphernalia catalogue for the IRA's rivals in loyalism.

Martin Dillon is an investigative journalist and author who has won international acclaim for his work on the Troubles

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