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[Oireachtas] Topical issue debate - Northern Ireland issues [Republican Action Against Drugs]. (23 May 2012)

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Deputy Seán Ó Fearghaíl: I welcome the Minister of State, Deputy Creighton, who I presume is taking this item. 

Deputy Lucinda Creighton: Especially for the Deputy.
Deputy Seán Ó Fearghaíl: I thank the Minister of State. We are getting used to these exchanges.
One of the sad points about this is that we are obliged to have a discussion about it at all. Dissident republican activity has been escalating in recent months. A significant number of bombs have been located and diffused by Army experts and Derry has been rocked by explosions earlier in the year. This is compounded by splinter republican groups, such as RAAD in Derry, which continue to terrorise their communities. Continued cross-Border co-operation on dissident groups between security forces needs to be maintained and developed. Continued investment in areas blighted by paramilitary activity should remain a priority for both the Government and the Opposition.
Last night in Derry the police found a number of explosive devices in a flat and arrested a man suspected of republican dissident activity. Police stated the devices were found in a flat in a built-up residential area and could have caused significant damage or serious harm. Residents, including elderly people, children and disabled people were evacuated from the area. This highlights the ongoing threat that dissident republican activity represents to the lives of ordinary decent families throughout the North of Ireland.
On Monday last, seven men engaged in dissident republican activity were charged with engaging in conduct in preparation for committing acts of terrorism, possession of a firearm and ammunition, and attending a place used for terrorist training. The men were charged with offences relating to an alleged terrorist training camp near Omagh. Clearly, these groups are organised and attempting to upskill and ramp up their terrorist activity. In January of this year two bombs exploded in Derry, for which the Real IRA was presumed to be responsible. We know the Real IRA has an active unit in Derry which has been responsible for a number of attacks on symbolic targets across the city. Two years ago the terror group bombed a branch of the Royal Bank of Scotland-owned Ulster Bank, and last year admitted responsibility for two bomb attacks on branches of the Bank of Santander.
The Republican Action Against Drugs, RAAD, group was highlighted on last night’s “Prime Time” programme. This is a vigilante group associated with dissident republican activity and was set up four years ago. RAAD bombs, shoots, exiles and threatens those it decides are guilty of drug dealing or anti-social behaviour. It is a small organisation, with an estimated membership of between 20 and 50, but it is having an extraordinarily chilling effect on a city that is to be the 2013 City of Culture. Reports indicate there have been at least 26 RAAD shootings in the Derry area which resulted in casualties. The group has detonated 21 pipe bombs. Community activists estimate that RAAD has threatened around 200 young men from Derry and exiled as many as 30 in the past three years.
In February, RAAD murdered a Derry native, Andrew Allen, near Buncrana, County Donegal. Its activities have spilled over the Border, therefore, as it hunts down people it believes to be guilty of drug dealing. It must be put on record that the Allen family completely rejects this accusation. RAAD told “Prime Time” it intends to begin targeting the Police Service of Northern Ireland. This would mark a major escalation of its campaign of violence and would further threaten the peace process and the normalisation of life in the Six Counties.
The PSNI’s success against RAAD has been poor so far, with no prosecutions to date for any RAAD shooting and only three prosecutions for other crimes committed by suspected members of this organisation. The PSNI says it needs more co-operation from the community to get convictions and points out that even those that RAAD has shot are typically too afraid to give adequate witness statements.
The key to solving these problems is targeting investment in areas which are affected by dissident activity and ensuring that these communities co-operate with the PSNI investigations into the criminal group, RAAD, and other dissident republican activities. EU funding and cross-Border initiatives should continue to focus on developing these areas and strengthening the normalisation process. The spill-over of violence across the Border highlights the need for ongoing co-operation between the PSNI and An Garda Síochána. Information sharing and an assessment of the threat in places like Derry should be shared amongst the forces.
Details of the exiling of people, as picked up by the PSNI, should be forwarded to the Garda as many of these individuals who are forced into exile live in the Republic…..
[To read the rest of this debate click the link above]
Topical Issue Debate - Northern Ireland Issues
Dáil Éireann Debate Vol. 766 No. 2
Wednesday, 23 May 2012

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