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Dissident agreement not to act during pandemic 'null and void'

Dissident republicans have breached agreement not to act during health crisis.

Dissident republicans have breached a commitment not to carry out any actions during the coronavirus pandemic.

Armed groups, through a number of intermediaries in Belfast and Derry, committed to not taking any action against either the security forces, or within their own communities, during the crisis.

However, the groups have breached the commitment on a number of occasions, the most recent on Sunday evening when a man in his 20s was shot in both legs in west Belfast.

The 23-year-old man was walking in Springhill Drive at about 10.30pm on Sunday when he was approached by a man on a bicycle.

The cyclist ordered the victim to lie down before shooting him in the legs. The injured man was later taken to hospital.

Police described it as "a brutal attack for which there is no justification".

On April 30, a man was shot in the leg in an attack in north Belfast.

The victim, in his 50s, was taken to hospital for treatment for injuries caused by the paramilitary style attack.

Last week two viable devices were discovered during a security alert in Craigavon in County Armagh.

Several homes were evacuated following the discovery of two suspicious object in the Pinebank area on Sunday morning.

Police said Army bomb experts examined the objects which were "viable devices". They have been removed for examination.

Éire Óg GAA club opened its doors following the alert in Craigavon, which lasted a number of hours, causing significant disruption to residents in the area.

A death threat from the New IRA was also sent to an Irish News journalist during the lockdown.

Dissidents from the New IRA, INLA and CIRA had, through a number of intermediaries, gave assurances it would suspend all actions during the pandemic.

"They were told that the backlash from their own community, and even their closest supporters, would be severe if they took any action during lockdown and at a time when the NHS was under pressure.

"They all, without question, agreed to take a step back while the crisis was ongoing", a source close to the negotiations said.

However, as lockdown has continued there have been a number of incidents involving members of the main dissident organisations, with the verbal agreement to refrain from actions now believed to be null and void.

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