'IRA' threaten PSNI vehicle recovery firms
THE republican group known as the ‘IRA’ has threatened to kill the directors of 11 vehicle recovery firms it claims work for the PSNI.
The death threats came as the group, sometimes referred to as the New IRA, said it planted an incendiary device at one of the companies named last weekend.
Six vehicles were damaged at Creighton’s Garage in the Finaghy area of south Belfast during the attack in the early hours of Saturday morning.
The family also own a well-known shop and filling station which is nearby.
A relative of the current owners, William Creighton (77) was shot dead at the family business by the Provisional IRA in August 1976.
The pensioner was shot after he grappled with four masked men who then planted a bomb in the garage causing widespread damage.
Using a recognised codeword, the ‘IRA’ said it was responsible for recently targeting the business and named 11 vehicle recovery it alleges carry out work for the police across the north.
The statement threatened to kill the managing directors of the companies.
The organisation added that staff members at each of the firms “who partake in this type of work are also under immediate threat”.
The recovery firms were also warned not to enter republican districts.
"All those contractors must stay out of all republican areas with immediate effect,” the statement said.
It is understood the firms listed have been accused of removing vehicles seized by the police from the homes of republicans during raids as well as the recovery and transport of PSNI vehicles.
Those involved in the motor trade have also come under threat.
It is understood this includes businesses that supply vehicles and parts, such as tyres, to the PSNI.
“Anyone involved in the motor trade in connection with the PSNI should take note,” the group warned.
Vehicle recovery firms support the police in removing cars used in serious crime, but also recovering stolen and abandoned cars.
Assistant Chief Constable Alan Todd described the threat as "appalling".
“There should be no doubt that targeting contractors in this way has consequences for local people and may jeopardise criminal investigations, for example if a car used in serious crime can’t be recovered for forensic examination,” he said.
“Equally, vehicles left abandoned may become targets for anti-social behaviour, something we know has real-life impact on communities.
“Those behind this vile threat have no support and I am calling on them to withdraw it immediately and explain their actions to the public.”
The threat comes amid an increase in recent activity by the ‘IRA’.
Weeks later it confirmed that it sent parcel bombs to “commercial targets” and British army recruitment officers at addresses in England and Scotland.
A package found at a sorting office in Limerick last month is believed to be linked to the other devices.
Policing Board member Dolores Kelly said the recent threat is “deeply worrying”.
The SDLP assembly member said a lack of political progress locally has created a vacuum.
“This should be focusing minds at Westminster as well as everywhere else,” she said.
“The Secretary of State should be making a statement on the threat level and obviously we will have our own discussions with the police about it.
“We have always made the point where there is a political vacuum and lack of leadership these organisations thrive.”
“These people should not be allowed to take us back.”
These are self-appointed, self-centred vicious people with no other agenda than to drag all of us back to darker days. They offer nothing but misery. They belong behind bars and, working together, we can make that happen. @PoliceServiceNI @ChiefConPSNI @NIPolicingBoard @NIOgov https://t.co/Ha5vMQVMRP— PFNI (@PoliceFedforNI) April 5, 2019
A spokeswoman for the Fire Service said six cars were torched in the Creighton’s Garage blaze, and confirmed the fire also spread to a building.
She added that five appliances and 30 firefighters attended the scene shortly after 3pm and that the cause is under investigation.