Dissidents offer only hate, hurt and fear

The Irish News view: New IRA should have announced it was disbanding and decommissioning, not continuing to target police officers

The attempted murder of DCI John Caldwell last month by the New IRA was an unjustifiable tragedy
The attempted murder of DCI John Caldwell last year exposed the violent emptiness of the New IRA

The only new year message that the violent thugs of the criminal gang known as the New IRA should have issued was a confirmation to all Irish citizens that it was disbanding and decommissioning.

Instead, the paramilitary group has said it will continue its murderous activities. In particular, it says it will keep on targeting members of the security forces.

As befits a gang with no popular support and which skulks in the shadows, its purported new year statement was placed on walls in Tallaght, Dublin under the cover of darkness; whatever twisted cause or ideology the New IRA believes its vile actions serves, they do not stand up to the scrutiny of daylight.

It is tempting to ignore the utterly self-serving statements of groups such as the New IRA; they are patently incoherent and odious. But it is also important that their pathetic justifications for violence, terror and fear are debunked and measured against the democratically expressed hopes and views of the overwhelming majority of the public.

Like other republican paramilitary groups past and present, the New IRA claims it is fighting for “Irish independence”. This is as delusional as it is dangerous, as evidenced by its shameful boast of how in the past 12 months it has shown it has the “capability to target members of the crown forces”.

This is a clear reference to the attempted murder last February of Detective Chief Inspector John Caldwell, with which several people have been charged. Mr Caldwell was, it should be remembered, shot while putting footballs into his car after a youth soccer training session, with young people present. Thankfully Mr Caldwell has made positive steps in his recovery, and only those with the most warped worldviews will wish him anything other than a full return to health.

The fundamental question that dissident criminal groups like the New IRA cannot answer is that of how the murder attempt on Mr Caldwell advanced their cause one iota. If it achieved anything, it was a united voice of revulsion and condemnation across the political and civic spectrum.

While there will be clear support for the PSNI, Garda, security services and justice system in putting these groups out of action, there is also a responsibility on our politicians to demonstrate that politics works for the common good and that it, and not the shadows of paramilitarism, is the arena where change is shaped.