Exclusive: Dissident group responsible for Peadar Heffron attack announces ceasefire
DISSIDENT republican group Oglaigh na hEireann has announced a ceasefire, saying the "environment is not right for armed conflict" at this time.
In a statement to The Irish News, accompanied by a recognised codeword, it said the decision followed a review and discussion with its membership.
"The leadership of Oglaigh na hEireann are announcing that with immediate effect we will suspend all armed actions against the British state," it said.
"The leadership of ONH remain unbowed and unbroken. We will continue to protect our membership and base as we move forward in a spirit of united determination to achieve our political aims".
The group has been responsible for several high-profile attacks, including the attempted murder of Catholic police officer Peadar Heffron in 2010.
Captain of the PSNI Gaelic football team at the time, Mr Heffron spoke out last year for the first time about the attempt on his life that resulted him losing a leg and having to use a wheelchair.
Formed with a number of former senior members of the Provisional IRA, Oglaigh na hEireann was at one time the most active of the dissident groups.
As well as the attack on Mr Heffron, members were involved in the targeting of police officer Ronan Kerr, murdered outside his Omagh home in a 2011 bomb attack.
While it had previously hinted that it was in a transitional period in relation to its future, sources last night denied there had been any direct or indirect negotiations with the British government ahead of the ceasefire announcement.
The jailing of veteran republican Seamus McGrane in 2016, which coincided with the imprisonment of other leadership figures in Belfast and Derry, marked a dramatic slowdown in the group's activities.
McGrane was sentenced to 11-and-a-half years by a non-jury court in Dublin for directing terrorism and plotting an attack to coincide with a visit by Prince Charles to the Republic.
However, talks about the future of ONH are said to have predated those high-profile arrests.
Prisoners linked to the organisation are said to have been consulted ahead of the announcement and while sources say they have not lobbied directly for early releases, there is an expectation that it will be followed by action to address issues linked to prisoner conditions linked to the separated regime in Maghaberry.
An official announcement by senior trade union figures - who have been involved in private talks around the group's future - is expected later today.
PSNI Assistant Chief Constable Stephen Martin called on OnH to "meet people’s expectations and cease using violence immediately".
"This includes all types of organised criminality within communities.
"The group has announced it is to suspend all actions against the ‘British State’, however, for years now, members have been heavily involved in extreme violence against people living in their own communities, including carrying out brutal beatings and shootings, as well as menacing acts of intimidation to create fear and control."