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12th-Nov-2014 05:43 pm - Derry City Council: Safety wardens face 'dissident threats'
12 Nov 2014

A number of Derry City Council staff have been withdrawn from duty following claims of threats from dissident republicans.

The council said the threats were made to 11 community safety wardens, who are employed to deal with low-level anti-social behaviour.

They said the threats were delivered on Tuesday and were being treated very seriously.

The police said it did not discuss the security of individuals.

DUP councillor Drew Thompson is chairman of the city's Policing and Community Safety Partnership (PCSP), which runs the warden scheme.

'Totally unfounded'

Speaking on BBC Radio Foyle on Wednesday, Mr Thompson said he had called for the threats to be lifted immediately.

"I would appeal and say to these people responsible to get off the backs of the people and withdraw this threat, because it is totally unfounded and there's no justification for it," he said.

Sinn Féin councillor Paul Fleming said the "vast majority" of people in the city wanted the wardens to continue working.

Derry City Council is expected to hold a special meeting on Wednesday to discuss the threats.
'Vitally important'

The council's chief executive, Sharon O'Connor, said the wardens played a "pivotal role in providing peace of mind to many" in Derry.

She said: "These allegations must be refuted and every effort made to have the threat immediately withdrawn.

"We want the support of the public in calling for an immediate removal of this threat, so these people can return to work to continue to provide this vitally important community work."
11th-Nov-2014 11:39 pm - Omagh bomb suspect arrested in crackdown on republican dissidents

Northern Ireland police swoop on house in Newry nets man they believe was behind bomb blast that killed 29 people in 1998

Henry McDonald
The Guardian
11 November 2014

**See also: Arrests in Ardcarne Park, Newry, 'linked to Continuity IRA'

Police officers and firefighters inspect the damage caused by the bomb explosion in Omagh, Northern Ireland, in 1998. (Photograph: Paul Mcerlane/PA)

One of the chief suspects in the Real IRA bombing in Omagh has been arrested in a major security operation against republican dissidents.

The veteran republican was detained along with 11 others in the Newry area, close to the border with the Irish Republic.

The men, aged between 36 and 75, were arrested at a house in the Ardcane Park in Newry on Monday evening.

All 12, including the man police believe made the bomb that devastated Omagh in 1998, killing 29 people, are being questioned at the Police Service of Northern Ireland’s serious crime suite in Antrim.

It is understood that all 12 detainees were attending a republican meeting when the PSNI swooped on the house on Monday night.

Det Supt Kevin Geddes from the PSNI’s serious crime branch said: “Police are determined to investigate those individuals suspected of involvement in serious crime. This investigation is an example of our commitment to keep everyone in the community safe.”
8th-Jan-2014 03:54 am - Not one life was worth losing during Troubles, says former INLA man

Gemma Murray
News Letter
8 Jan 2014

Former INLA volunteer Tony O’Hara, whose brother Patsy was the fourth republican to die in the 1981 hunger strike, yesterday said that during the Troubles “not one life was worth it”.

The 57-year-old, who spent five years in prison for INLA activities, said “nothing will be achieved by the current republican [dissident] campaign apart from filling up jails”.

Tony O'Hara

“They [dissidents] need to realise that,” he added. “Even years ago when I was involved I had difficulty about taking life. But then it seemed a necessary part of the war.

“If they continue it is a waste of their time and only inflicts hardship on a community that is already under terrible hardship from the economy and everything else.

“What they [dissidents] are doing at the moment is going nowhere. When we look back all the people who lost their lives, and those who were injured and hurt in attacks and bombings everywhere, it achieved nothing.”

The former blanketman, who was the cell mate of the first republican prisoner to die on hunger strike, Bobby Sands, added that “all those lives were lost and it wasn’t worth it”.

“Hindsight is a great thing,” he added. “Myself and my friends were prepared to die so that Ireland would be free. But what was I prepared to die for?”

He added that “nothing will be achieved [by dissident republicans] by fighting on apart from misery”.

“Nothing can be achieved for the next 20 years, if they keep going, apart from more people going into jails.

“There is no difference between what the Provos were fighting for and what they [dissidents] are fighting for.

“But the big difference is the lack of support from the community. It is not there any more. If you look back in the history of Sinn Fein from 1975/76 you see headlines like ‘Smash Stormont’.

“Now years later the same members are in government there. They [Sinn Fein] keep on using the word dissidents, but the Provos were the largest dissident group going.

“They left the IRA. For them to use the word dissidents when they themselves were dissidents is laughable.

“They use the word like it is a dirty word.”

Mr O’Hara said that is why he did not use the term.

The Derry man, who joined the INLA in 1975 when the IRA went on a temporary four-month ceasefire, added he “never had any hope for the Haass talks”.

“When you get people who are so entrenched in their position there is no chance of them moving on.”

Tony O’Hara is the sixth former senior republican and blanketman to speak to the News Letter calling for dissidents to examine the history of the Troubles and rethink their campaign.

In recent weeks former senior Provisional IRA man Tommy Gorman said “a group of us have been making this point about dissidents for a long, long time”.

Earlier, former hunger striker Gerard Hodgins asked dissident republicans to “try and come up with a non-violent alternative because there is no appetite or support for a violent conflict in this country among any significant number of the population”.

Former Provo Tommy McKearney said he believed dissident republican violence was bolstering Sinn Fein support.

And in the first of the series former senior IRA men Anthony McIntyre and Richard O’Rawe branded the ongoing dissident campaign as “madness” and called for them to stop.

Mr McIntyre said: “Republicans lost the war and the IRA campaign failed and the dissidents need to be told that it failed rather then be allowed to continue thinking what they do. It cost so many lives.”

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