recruitment drive | 

Gardaí concern at emergence of 'vigilante' group with links to INLA patrolling estates

Dissident republican associates of slain terror chief Alan Ryan are key members of group
Alan Ryan was killed in 2012

Alan Ryan was killed in 2012

Ken Foy

Gardaí are becoming increasingly concerned about a dissident republican "vigilante" group with links to the INLA and have increased their monitoring of the group.

The Herald can reveal some members of the group are former close associates of murdered Real IRA terror chief Alan Ryan who was shot dead in September 2012.

It was previously revealed that Ryan's associates were not welcome to join other dissident groupings such as the New IRA and senior sources said the Dubliners have now become prominent members of the Irish Republican Socialist Party (IRSP).

Their activities have dramatically increased in counties Cavan and Meath in recent months, with a major recruitment drive.

They have taken to social media, leaflet drops and "patrolling" housing estates.

A dissident Republican at Alan Ryan's funeral

A dissident Republican at Alan Ryan's funeral

The IRSP has long been classified as the political wing of the INLA and it has been using social media in recent weeks in an attempt to recruit new members.

"This is a cause for concern on many levels. This organisation is most active in locations such as Virginia in Co Cavan, Trim and Kells in Co Meath, as well as in the capital - particularly on the northside," a senior source said.

"They are working very closely with an INLA faction in Strabane, Co Tyrone.

"Of course not everyone involved in the IRSP is involved in crime, but the fact that associates of Alan Ryan are now involved is something that needs to be closely watched."

Recent activities in Cavan/ Meath have been condemned by gardaí and politicians.

After a confrontation described as a "violent face-off", which took place at the Magdalene Court estate in Kells on November 10, Aontú leader and local TD Peadar Tóibín expressed his deep concern about the situation.

"Under no circumstances can a vigilante group be allowed to operate in Meath or anywhere else in the country," Mr Tóibín said in a statement.

"I accept the residents' frustrations but what they really need is more action from the gardaí and the local council in tackling anti-social behaviour.

"The IRSP or anyone else cannot be allowed to enforce their rule by using threats of violence, we simply cannot accept vigilantes being allowed operate freely."

The situation escalated just three days later and gardaí have launched a major investigation after an incident in the nearby Headfort Grove area of the town.

It is alleged that three teenage boys aged just 14 were badly beaten by five masked men, who threatened to kill them if they took part in anti-social behaviour.

No arrests have yet been made in relation to the incident, which has been described as a case of "mistaken identity" which unfolded at 4.45pm on Saturday, November 13.

Gardaí in Co Cavan have also been closely monitoring the group and received reports that IRSP members called to the Virginia home of a foreign national who they described as a "child groomer" on their social media platforms.

Despite the online accusations of the dissident republican group, senior sources said gardaí found no "tangible evidence" that the man was engaged in the offences he was accused of. The man has since died in a car crash.

Officers are also braced for the possibility of a new feud breaking out in the locality between this relatively newly formed IRSP branch and a long-established "small but very dangerous" INLA faction that has been operating in Co Cavan for years.

"A clash between these groups is very likely and it is surprise that it has not happened yet really as the newer branch state they are completely anti-drugs and are even offering help to people suffering from addiction on their online platforms," a senior source said.

"The more established group are involved primarily in drug dealing, machinery theft and theft from farms. They are exclusively criminal but operate under an INLA banner.

"A main player in this organisation is suspected of importing drugs from England and the gang are suspected of making a lot of money from fake insurance claims.

"They are violent and they are organised.

"It looks inevitable that the two groups will end up clashing and that will be very messy. Both factions operate under the dissident republican banner but their aims and goals are very different."

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