NewsNorthern Ireland

Terror boss declares gun war on Ulster drug gangs

Damien McKenna
Damien McKenna

Dissident godfather Damien McKenna has declared war on drugs barons.

We unmask him today as the ‘main man’ who has vowed to ‘clean up’ the drugs trade in the gang heartlands of Lurgan and Portadown – once the crime fiefdom of the loyalist LVF and its blood brothers, Billy and Drew ‘The Piper’ King.

But today we reveal that Damien McKenna is the new head of the Continuity IRA gang that has local drug gangs in their sights.

And we expose how his avowed violent campaign, driven by desperation to gain credibility for his terrorist outfit, is set to spark a blood-soaked dissident/criminal feud that could even see dissident factions turn their guns upon each other.

For the Sunday World can reveal McKenna  has already targeted a drug dealing gang headed by a family member of Colin Duffy’s most trusted associate.

Tensions have been growing in recent weeks after the CIRA declared their intention to purge nationalist estates in the Lurgan, Craigavon and Portadown areas of drug dealing criminals who are prepared to fight to the bitter end, desperate to protect their lucrative trade.

One of the main gangs in CIRA’s line of fire, who have dubbed themselves ‘The Firm’, is headed up by the 24-year-old son of one of Duffy’s closest comrades.

While Duffy has no involvement in the drug trade his associate’s son has been freely using Duffy’s  name as a ‘free pass’ to deal drugs, believing this is his ‘passport’ to protection.

Up until now this has worked, with both him and ‘The Firm’ raking in thousands of pounds every week. Now, however,  the CIRA have vowed that the clock is ticking and ‘The Firm’s’ drug dealing empire is set to be crushed.

“The Continuity IRA has effectively declared all-out war against the drug gangs in the area though they seem to have made drugs pushers in the Kilwilkie Estate their priority. The police aren’t the only ones to be watching these developments closely; this could explode at any minute. Extreme violence and murder is imminent,” said a security source.

The Sunday World can also reveal members of the New IRA have visited members of the CIRA to warn them off from targeting the Lurgan drug dealer.

However the drugs dealers ‘minders’, the New IRA,  have been told he will not be protected because of his well-known connection to Duffy.

This has also been seen by some as a direct snub to Duffy, the CIRA making it clear they have no respect for his alleged seniority in the dissident world.

Last month it was reported locally that the gang leader’s home had been shot at.  Police are understood to have received no reports of the incident.

But the Sunday World can reveal a CIRA ‘hit squad’  arrived at the house armed, but their target was not at home.

Last weekend the same CIRA ‘team’ also  ambushed a home belonging to another member of ‘The Firm’ during a house party.

They failed to gain entry yet a confrontation later turned to violence with members of both sides receiving injuries.

“One of the CIRA team  was sliced and one of the druggies ended up with a busted arm. It’s getting out of control and now you have elements of the New IRA involved trying to flex their muscles in order to protect one of their own’s son,” said one well-placed local source.

“The CIRA have already turned up at the drug bosses home armed with a gun however he was not on the premises. CIRA, dubbed locally as the Contos,  are determined to wipe out ‘The Firm’.  They don’t give a f**k who he is related to or who he knows,” the source  said

The drugs godfather in CIRA’s sights --  his identity is known to this newspaper but we can’t name him, at present, for legal reasons --  has recently bought a gun from the LVF for £400 for his own protection.

“He bought it from the King brothers for 400 quid  and he wants everyone to know he has it. Though dealing with the LVF is only going to make matters worse.

“He knows his life is in danger and the Contos mean business. If he is taken out there will be all-out war, Duffy’s mate will make sure of it,” he added.

The Sunday World understands that, unlike other dissident gangs like Oglaigh na hEireann, the CIRA in Armagh are not extorting the dealers for money or taking back- handers to turn a blind eye to their activities.

The CIRA have recently staged regular patrols in the Lurgan area. A statement which accompanied the recent pictures reads : ‘Volunteers from the Continuity Irish Republican Army pictured patrolling the streets of Lurgan, Co. Armagh on the lookout England’s armed colonial police, the RUC/PSNI and undercover British soldiers who are operating unwanted across occupied Ireland’.

In 2009 Damien McKenna was jailed for 15 years for his role in a plot to kill police officers with a mortar bomb in Lurgan.

McKenna, alongside Gary Toman and Sean McConville pleaded guilty.

 Gary Toman 

The police said they believed the men were members of the Continuity IRA.

The mortar was designed to be fired horizontally into a passing police or Army vehicle.

The men were being watched by members of an Army Special Forces unit in March 2007 with McKenna being under observation for up to six months.

Dissident sources say he has risen up the ranks of the CIRA since his release from jail.

The CIRA is now active only in North Armagh  and Limerick.