Breakaway dissident group issues 'execution' threat
A new dissident group have issued a threat, claiming they will "execute" anyone believed to be involved in selling drugs.
As the architects of the Good Friday Agreement gathered in Belfast this week to mark the anniversary of the peace accord which helped bring an end to sustained violence, a picture emerged of a number of heavily armed men and a statement was passed to the Irish News from the organisation calling itself the Irish Republican Movement (IRM).
It is believed the organisation is made up mainly of disgruntled members of Oglaigh na hEireann, who earlier this year declared a cessation of all armed activity.
Based in Belfast and west Tyrone the organisation appears to have access to automatic rifles and other weaponry.
In a statement the group said they will "protect" their membership and that anyone who is involved in the drugs trade must "cease" immediately saying the "penalty is death" for anyone discovered selling drugs within nationalist communities.
They also issued warnings to anyone involved in burglary or other criminality saying they should "be under no illusion" that they will follow through with their threat.
While the group appear to be threatening vigilante style attacks on members of their own community the statement also made reference to events in Lurgan and Derry over the Easter period when the PSNI arrested and charged a number of individuals in connection with republican commemorations.
Saying any they will "actively target Crown Forces" involved in policing operations against republican commemorative events.
In January ONH said it would "suspend all armed actions against the British state" with immediate effect "at this time the environment is not conducive to armed conflict" the statement added.
While the organisation said the move was made after extensive consultation with their membership, the Irish News understand that some key members based in parts of Belfast and west Tyrone were unhappy with the decision to call a ceasefire and since have formed the IRM splinter group.
North Belfast MLA and SDLP deputy leader Nichola Mallon condemned the statement.
"Paramilitaries are not interested in providing solutions to the growing drug problems in our community.
"They're only interested in exploiting this issue to further their own agenda. Hooded vigilantes are as much a scourge on our society as drug dealers", the SDLP deputy leader said.