Northern Ireland news

Allison Morris: Derry last stronghold of `New IRA'

Derry remains the last stronghold of the New IRA, which was blamed for helping orchestrate sectarian violence in the city during the summer months

IT is easy amid all the political turmoil at Westminster to create a narrative that links the car bombing in Derry to the looming Brexitastrophie. Easy but not correct.

While the PSNI consumed by preparations for Brexit may have taken their eye off the ball, the fact remains that there is a small and determined group of dissidents still active in the North West.

That determination has nothing to do with Brexit, other than potentially using the added media attention for propaganda purposes.

History has shown that hard line and uncompromising republicans were never in favour of EU membership and considered it an attack on Irish sovereignty.

Many nationalists are now using the uncertainty around Brexit to call for a border poll on Irish unity. The constitutional question has never attracted so much mainstream civic support.

Unity, albeit with Europe, is a political movement that is gaining traction, leaving violent republicanism without motive or direction.

A hard border, could be potentially exploited for propaganda and radicalisation purposes but it remains to be seen whether that will ever materialise.

The bomb in Derry should instead act as a reminder that there are those on our island who will never be in favour of the peace process.

Rather than look to the Brexit referendum as a reason for this, it would be much more accurate to look closer to home at the failure of local politics.

Those older republicans who split from Sinn Féin over the peace process and concessions made for that political compromise will of course now say that the entire project failed.

The New IRA, believed to be responsible for the bombing was created back in 2012 from a merger of the Real IRA and several other smaller organisations.

The merger ran into difficulties, due to the egos of those involved quite early on, but the name stuck.

While many of the attacks involve crude and outdated weaponry, they have claimed the life of prison officer Adrian Ismay and carried out a number of murders within their own community.

The arrests of high-profile leadership figures had neutralised the threat to a degree in Belfast, Armagh and Tyrone. However, Derry remains the last stronghold of the organisation, which was blamed for helping orchestrate sectarian violence in the city during the summer months.

They have also been recruiting young men in the North West, aided in this venture by the lack of a peace dividend for places like Derry and Strabane that remain lacking in basic infrastructure and investment.

Socially disadvantaged young men and women will always be susceptible to the ‘romanticised’ lure of organisations that claim to be keeping the ‘struggle’ alive.

The reality, however, is very different. Young people being used as cannon fodder to elevate the egos and finances of those wise enough to realise but not care that a once a year bomb in a city centre achieves nothing other than headlines.

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