31/01/2003

Real IRA says 'war' will continue

The Real IRA has dismissed calls for a ceasefire and says the ‘war’ will continue until there is a British withdrawal from Northern Ireland.

Responding for the first time to calls from founder members of the organisation to stand down, the Real IRA’s army council has firmly ruled out the possibility of a ceasefire.

The organisation, who claimed responsibility for the Omagh bombing in which 29 people were killed, also indicated that nationalists who join the PSNI would be "legitimate targets" for assassination.

The statement was read out by a hooded Real IRA man, flanked by two men in paramilitary regalia, on Channel 9, a commercial TV station in Derry.

The statement read: "We cannot envisage a ceasefire in any circumstances other than in which a declaration of intent to withdraw from the occupied six counties is made by the British government.”

Referring to the new policing arrangements, the group said: “We regard the PSNI as an integral section of the British Crown Forces and its war machine in Ireland.

“We cannot see how any individual who considers themselves nationalist could join such a force.”

The Real IRA’s leadership changed hands last year after senior members of the organisation were jailed in the Republic. Last year, the incarcerated paramilitary chiefs released a statement criticising the current leaders as criminals who had betrayed the principles of republicanism.

The Real IRA is now thought to be led by a man from Co Armagh alongside two other men from Derry and Limerick.

(AMcE)

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