Northern Ireland news

New IRA's claims of anti-drug operation widely condemned

Veteran campaigner and politician, Eamonn McCann condemned the New IRA statement as "hypocrisy of the highest order". PICTURE: Brian Lawless/PA Wire.
Seamus McKinney

Claims by the New IRA that they used sophisticated tracking devices to intercept cocaine worth £50,000 have been condemned as “hypocrisy of the highest order” by veteran campaigner and politician, Eamonn McCann.

There was widespread condemnation of the 'The IRA' claims which also included a threat to kill three named people who the organisation alleged were behind the drugs.

In a statement to The Irish News, the dissident republican paramilitary organisation claimed the drugs were seized at a house in south Inishowen. After putting the alleged drugs and a small set of scales on display, the items were doused in petrol and destroyed.

The New IRA is responsible for a large number of paramilitary-style attacks in recent years and the murder earlier this year of writer, Lyra McKee.

A spokesman for the organisation, using a recognised codeword, said: “We used cameras and tracking devices. These people are involved in the major supply of cocaine. The main target we believe is being protected by British crown forces.”

Mr McCann, a People before Profit councillor, said it should be made clear by all representative groups, particularly in working class areas, that the New IRA does not speak for them.

“I condemn it. The sheer arrogance of these people when allied to their wounding and killing puts them outside the realm of ordinary politics. For far too long, we have allowed groups to claim to operate in the name of the people without any say-so from the people they claim to represent.

“What they are trying to do is to instil fear so they can portray themselves as protectors of the people It is hypocrisy of the highest order,” Mr McCann said.

The group was also condemned by Ulster Unionist leader, Steve Aiken who said there were only two “legitimate police forces” on the island of Ireland and the New IRA was not one of them.

He said: “The New IRA must be condemned for everything they do. It must be left to legitimate police forces to deal with all criminality.”

Derry DUP assembly member, Gary Middleton said the dissident republican group had “absolutely no credibility.”

“They have a terrible and dangerous record. Anyone with information about any criminal activity should go to the police; they are the proper authority to deal with this,” he said.

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