Backgrounder: New IRA leader under Garda surveillance for years
Crucial evidence against Braney was given by a gang member who turned State’s witness
Kevin Braney was jailed for life for the murder of another dissident republican almost six years ago.
Kevin Braney was the leader in Dublin of the so called New IRA - regarded by the Garda and PSNI as the most dangerous terrorist organisation in Ireland since the Provisional IRA
The New IRA was behind last month’s car bomb in Derry and security sources said they believe the terrorist group is gearing up for an offensive in the event of a hard Brexit.
It was formed in 2012 by the remnants of the Real IRA, Republican Action Against Drugs, former Provisional IRA activists and criminal elements in Dublin.
Braney’s conviction for the murder of another dissident republican Peter Butterly followed Garda operations involving the Special Detective Unit, Garda Security and Intelligence and the highly secretive National Surveillance Unit (NSU).
Although Braney had no previous convictions for terrorist offences he was kept under surveillance by gardaí for years.
Members of the NSU gave evidence against Braney during his trial but the public were excluded from court during their evidence and they could only be identified in the media by initials.
NSU members watched Braney as he met two of Butterly’s killers two days before the shooting and as he drove to The Huntsman Inn the day before the murder and at a meeting the day after the murder.
The NSU was also closely observing the events of the afternoon of March 6th, 2013 when Butterly drove into the car park of The Huntsman Inn, another car arrived and Butterly was chased down and shot dead.
Gardaí were unable to prevent the shooting but an officer who arrived on the scene within minutes said an Act of Contrition into Butterly’s ear. Other gardaí stopped and arrested the killers in their stolen car a short distance away within minutes.
Braney was present at a “debriefing” the day after the murder, held at a KFC branch, where discussion centred on why so many gardaí were present at The Huntsman Inn and why the killers had been arrested.
Crucial evidence against Braney was given by Dave Cullen, a member of the gang who turned State’s witness and who is now serving a sentence for possession of a firearm on the day of the murder.
Cullen told the court that Braney came to his Balbriggan apartment with other men the evening before the shooting and Braney was heard to say: “Make sure this is done right and he (Butterly) doesn’t get away.”
Cullen’s role had been to dispose of the murder weapon in the grounds of Gormanston College but he was arrested shortly after the shooting. A murder charge against him was dropped and entered the Witness Protection Programme.
Braney was convicted of IRA membership last year after an incident following an accident in Co Meath. He received a four years sentence for that offence and is currently on the New IRA landing in Portlaoise Prison.
The New IRA is the main target for Garda Security and Intelligence and the Special Detective Unit. It is believed to have about 50 active members and a several hundred sympathisers north and south.
It is thought to be strongest in Derry City, Lurgan and parts of Belfast and south Armagh. In the Republic, the group has attracted the remnants of the Real IRA and criminal elements and its activities are centred around providing logistical support for attacks in the North and fundraising through robberies and extortion.