Irish nationalists opposed to Northern Ireland’s peace process have told the BBC they were behind a fatal shooting last Friday at a Dublin hotel, saying it was retaliation for the killing of an ally in 2012.
One man was killed and two others wounded when gunmen dressed like special forces operatives opened fire with automatic weapons at a boxing weigh-in in Dublin, an assault that has become an issue before a general election on Feb 26.
The country’s justice minister has described the manner of the attack, which happened at a hotel in broad daylight with children present, just 4 kilometres from central Dublin, as ‘unprecedented.’
In a statement to the BBC in which an agreed codeword was used, a man claiming to speak on behalf of the leadership of the dissident group Continuity IRA said its members were responsible, saying it was retaliation for the fatal shooting in September 2012 of Alan Ryan, another militant nationalist.
“We are not going to stand back and allow drug dealers and criminals to target republicans,” the BBC quoted the man as saying. “This will not be an isolated incident.”
Asked about the claim of responsibility, Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald on Monday said the claims would be thoroughly investigated.
Irish Republicans oppose British rule in Northern Ireland and many defend the use of force against it. Dissident Republicans do not recognize 1998 ceasefire in Northern Ireland by the Provisional Irish Republican Army, which fought British rule for three decades until the ceasefire.
Police have in the past said a number of dissident groups are involved in criminal activity.
Sinn Fein, the former political wing of the provisional IRA, is hostile to the dissident groups and has condemned the shooting.
But rival parties have highlighted the fact that the provisional IRA brought in large numbers of automatic weapons similar to those used on Friday to Northern Ireland in the 1970s and ’80s.
Senior Sinn Fein member Pearse Doherty denied on Monday the legacy of the Provisional IRA was a factor in Friday’s attack.
“The (provisional) IRA is gone. The arms have been put beyond use,” Doherty told journalists on Friday.