Divisions in CIRA after meeting of dissenters

 

DIVISIONS IN the Continuity IRA have surfaced after its leadership yesterday repudiated what it said was a recent “unauthorised” meeting by members seeking to set up a breakaway paramilitary group.

The Continuity IRA said a recent convention of local leaders of the dissident grouping was improperly called and represented an attack on the leadership. CIRA said it had “dismissed” members from the organisation, while a number of others were “suspended”.

It added: “The leadership of the republican movement wishes to make it known publicly that contrary to claims made privately by those attempting to set up a splinter group, no general army convention of ‘Óglaigh na hÉireann’ – popularly known as the Continuity IRA – has been held.”

The statement from CIRA comes after a reported attempt by hardline elements of the organisation to stage a “coup” by taking over the offices of Republican Sinn Féin, which is politically linked to the CIRA, and its newspaper, Saoirse.

Republican Sinn Féin last month said advocates of a “broad front” of republicans would not succeed in attempts to “hijack” the organisation.

Republican sources said those behind the power struggle in the CIRA and Republican Sinn Féin were seeking to compel the CIRA leadership to engage in more “military activity”.

A recent statement from senior Republican Sinn Féin figures such as Des Dalton, Ruairí Ó Bradaigh, Joe O’Neill and Geraldine Taylor said the organisation’s “enemies” should be “rejected by true republicans”. They acknowledged that senior dissident republicans were involved in the power battle.

“We know who these people are and have been aware of their activities for some time. Some of them have held senior positions in the past and therefore share responsibility for the situation they now complain of,” they said.

The internal feuding reached a new level yesterday after the CIRA said a recent meeting of “local OCs” (officers commanding), understood to have been held in Bettystown, Co Louth, was unauthorised.

“Some persons attending did so on the understanding that it was a genuine ‘army’ meeting,” said the statement. “When it turned out to be an attack and an undermining of the leadership, a number of people reported to headquarters staff on what had taken place. As a result, the principal people involved were dismissed . . . others were suspended pending an investigation of their position.”

The CIRA said such meetings would not be tolerated. It added: “We warn that the unauthorised use of the name of the ‘army’ can have consequences. There is no ceasefire. The army council is intact and is fully in control of all matters concerning the ‘army’.”