7 Apr 2015

Continuity IRA in Easter ‘show of strength’

Footage obtained by Channel 4 News purports to show a masked Continuity IRA gunman firing shots from a pistol over a republican burial plot on Easter Saturday.

The Continuity IRA dissident republican splinter group made a show of strength on Easter Saturday, as a volunteer is apparently seen firing shots over a republican burial plot.

Pictures posted by the Sunday Life newspaper appear to confirm a film obtained by Channel 4 News that shows a masked paramiltary firing three shots into the air in St Colmans graveyard in Lurgan, Northern Ireland.

The weapon appears to jam and the man in the footage struggles with the safety catch on the weapon, checking it again before taking the final shot.

The video was posted online by Republican Sinn Féin, the republican splinter group that left Sinn Féin in 1986.

Their Amargh based Thomas Harte branch organised the Easter commemoration march to the republican plot at the cemetery, during which the display took place.

The march was led by a paramilitary colour party of masked men in paramilitary dress.

A spokesman for the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) said no reports had been received of the incident, and the Sunday Life report suggested there were no police present.

Increased activity

Security services have warned that dissident republican groups will aim to increase their activities ahead of the centenary of the 1916 Rising next Easter.

The power and influence of the Continuity IRA has waned in recent years due to splits and bloody internal faction fighting.

The two most prominent republican paramilitary formations are the New IRA, formed from the Real IRA and anti-drugs vigilantes, and the dissident splinter group ‘Óglaigh na hÉireann’ (ONH).

ONH claimed responsibility for a bomb that exploded in Belfast in December 2011 and repeated attacks on Landrovers belonging to the PSNI, using automatic weapons and explosives.

The larger New IRA were behind a Belfast mortar attack in police last year. Both groups have been frustrated by large numbers of arrests of leading members in recent years.

Republican Sinn Fein is a separate group from the Continuity IRA.