Tensions already high between rival Derry dissidents
Tensions between rival republican gangs in Derry city are at breaking point over embarrassing drug-dealing claims.
Recordings from meetings of the New IRA bugged by MI5 detail how the dissident group accused the INLA of “recruiting big steroid-head doormen” who sell drugs in gyms and “none of them have a brain cell”.
The conversations were made public during a failed bail hearing last week by Gary ‘Musky’ Hayden (49), who is accused of directing New IRA terrorism.
He is among nine prominent dissidents facing charges arising out of secret recordings of two alleged meetings of the terror gang’s ‘army council’ organised by the double agent Dennis McFadden.
INLA leaders in Derry, who have a bad-tempered relationship with the New IRA, hit the roof when they read the claims.
They are furious that the rival gang has again linked its members to the drugs trade.
Mediation was needed between the groups earlier this year when each accused the other of taxing drug dealers in graffiti spray-painted around Derry.
“INLA leaders were fuming when they read about the drug dealer claims in the paper,” a republican source told Sunday Life.
“They were saying that the New IRA has a brass neck as its young members have been seen snorting cocaine in a trendy bar in the city centre.”
Publicly, the INLA and New IRA oppose drugs, but in private members of both gangs tax drug dealers.
In February, in an obvious dig at its rival, the New IRA spray-painted graffiti throughout Derry proclaiming that it did not protect drug dealers.
The INLA responded by spray-painting the names of alleged drug dealers it accuses the New IRA of taxing.
Mediators had to be called in to settle the dispute amid fears it could turn violent.
The INLA, which is led by veteran republican Martin McMonagle, is strongest in the Ballymagroarty area of Derry, while the New IRA’s base is in the Creggan estate.
Earlier this year, the PSNI raided a business unit in the city, unearthing £80,000 of cocaine and a substantial sum of cash at a house in the Bogside.
Photographs obtained by Sunday Life show senior INLA members at a party in the premises the week before with a major drugs figure. It was these images that sparked the graffiti war with the New IRA. Although tensions between the gangs have cooled in recent months, they were reignited by the claims made about the INLA at the New IRA leadership meetings bugged by MI5.
One alleged New IRA member was taped saying about the INLA: “If you look at them wrong, there’s 10 at your door the next day and they’d batter you.”
Republican sources say these conversations, which were made public during Gary Hayden’s bail application, are just the tip of the iceberg and that more embarrassing claims will follow.
“All the people at these New IRA meetings do is moan and gossip about other republican groups,” added the insider.
“The transcripts, when they come out in court, will make for some reading.
“Those involved will have some explaining to do.”