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Irish republican group says it killed policeman

Video by Sarah DRURY

Text by FRANCE 24 (with wires)

Latest update : 2009-03-10

A policeman was shot dead late on Monday in County Armagh in an attack claimed by the dissident republican group Continuity IRA. The shooting came just two days after another dissident splinter group, the Real IRA, killed two British soldiers.

Republican splinter group Continuity IRA have claimed responsibility for killing a policeman in Northern Ireland, in the province's second attack in 48 hours, the Press Association reported on Tuesday.

"As long as there is British involvement in Ireland, these attacks will continue," they said in a coded message claiming to have killed a policeman on Monday night, two days after two soldiers were shot dead.

The policeman, named as Stephen Paul Carroll, 48, was shot in the head late on Monday in an area known to be home to nationalist republican supporters in Craigavon, 20 miles (30 kilometres) southwest of Belfast, police said.  It was the first killing of a police officer in Northern Ireland for a decade.

Initial suspicion for the killing fell on the Real IRA, who claimed responsibility for the death of two soldiers in Belfast over the weekend. Last night, officials and politicians spoke out against the latest attack on the peace process.

“We are tonight staring into the abyss, and I would appeal to people to pull back,” said Dolores Kelly, a member of Northern Ireland’s policing board, and a member of the nationalist SDLP party, echoing the feeling of many across the region.

Politicians also spoke up. On the Catholic side, Sinn Féin's Alex Maskey called the incident “yet another awful tragedy.” On the Protestant side, the First Minister of Northern Ireland, Peter Robinson, issued a statement saying he was sickened at the attempts by terrorists to destabilise Northern Ireland. “Those responsible for this murderous act will not be allowed to drag our province back to the past,” he said.

The Continuity IRA, also known as the Continuity Army Council, emerged in 1994 as the guerrilla wing of the splinter political group Republican Sinn Féin, which split from Sinn Féin in 1986. Although it has been inactive for several years, the group issued a statement in 1999, in which it vowed to "carry on the struggle."

The Real IRA formed in 1997 as a splinter group from the Irish Republican Army (IRA) and was behind Northern Ireland’s most deadly attack, the 1998 Omagh bombing, which killed 29 people. The mainstream IRA was disbanded and joined the British province’s current power-sharing government.


“The real IRA’s tactic is clearly to try and pick up a fight with the big boys, the IRA men who have been ruling working class Catholic neighborhoods in Northern Ireland for 35 years,” says Herve Amoric’s FRANCE 24 correspondent in Belfast. “These dissidents may not have the support of the people, but they are trying to provoke the IRA into a fight, and the consequence of a fight like that would be the collapse of the local government where Protestant and Catholics have shared power for two years, the collapse of the institutions born from the peace agreement.”




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Date created : 2009-03-10