Category: Archive

Continuity IRA claims responsibility for Fermanagh bomb

February 16, 2011

By Staff Reporter

By Anne Cadwallader

BELFAST — The Continuity IRA has claimed responsibility for detonating a four-pound high-explosive bomb under an oil tank at the back of a hotel in Irvinestown, Co. Fermanagh, on Sunday night. No one was injured.

CIRA, which is linked to Republican Sinn Fein, remains the only republican paramilitary group in Northern Ireland not on cease-fire and the only one never to have taken the life of any person, military or civilian.

The bomb exploded at the Catholic-owned Mahon’s Hotel 35 minutes after a warning phone call. The building was quickly evacuated. A second warning, about a bomb at the Manor House Hotel, Killydeas, outside Enniskillen, proved to be a hoax.

Sinn Fein’s Martin McGuinness and Gerry Adams both condemned the bombing and called on CIRA to disband. Other political condemnation also came quickly and was universally hostile.

Some unionists said it proved that their demand for paramilitary decommissioning was justifiable. Others, however, believe that if the IRA does decommission, it could lead to a flood of new recruits into the two dissident republican groups, the Real and Continuity IRAs.

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The aim of the small explosive device was apparently to send a signal to the police on both sides of the border that the dissident republican group was back in business. It could also have been timed to maximize Sinn Fein’s present difficulties in keeping the peace process on track.

The RUC and gardai had already stepped up surveillance on suspected members of the CIRA after last month’s seizure of a van load of explosives and bomb-making equipment in County Tipperary when one man was arrested.

That cache had been taken from a terrorist dump formerly under the control of the main IRA and was on its way to a border location in preparation for the resumption of the CIRA campaign.

The blast provides firm evidence that dissidents already have some explosive supplies and its leadership feels confident enough to strike again after the organization had been heavily infiltrated by garda intelligence and surveillance operations.

CIRA is also being kept under watch by the IRA as a result of the seized drogue bombs, Semtex and hand grenades taken from their dump. The dissidents are believed to have an active cell in the Limerick-Tipperary area, where their leader is based.

Garda surveillance and intelligence gathering in the past has disrupted several CIRA attempts to mount a cross-border bombing campaign and one seizure of explosives in County Monaghan in 1995 led to the arrest of one of their main activists, a Clareman living in Dublin who is still in jail.

CIRA is also believed to have active support bases in Roscommon-Leitrim, south Donegal and along the Fermanagh border but suffered from the defection last year of a number of experienced terrorists to the other dissident group, the Real IRA, which carried out the Omagh massacre.

Republican Sinn Fein has consistently denied claims that it is the political wing of the CIRA. In recent weeks, CIRA has made it clear in republican circles that it is not forming closer ties with the Real IRA and has attempted to attract support from the IRA.

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