Dissident republicans have formed new terror cells across the UK in a bid to wreck the peace process, it was claimed today.
As Omagh prepared to mark the fifth anniversary of the bomb outrage which killed 29 people, hardliners opposed to the Good Friday Agreement who were involved in the atrocity pledged there would be no let-up in their campaign.
One warned: “Irish people who agree with our sentiments are everywhere.”
Even though the Real IRA took the blame for Omagh, it emerged another dissident group, the Continuity IRA, was heavily involved in the August 1998 bomb plot.
Security sources in Belfast today confirmed undercover operations all over Northern Ireland, and particularly in the border regions, had been intensified in a bid to thwart threatened strikes by the terrorists.
Police and the Army have already foiled several bomb attacks and captured several suspected terrorists.
Detectives in Ireland and the UK were today questioning four men about alleged weapons shipments and an arms find linked to the Continuity IRA.
The successes heightened suspicions that both renegade republican outfits, who oppose Sinn Féin leaders Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness’ peace strategy, have been heavily infiltrated by informers and agents.
But sources close to its leadership insisted it still had undetected members in Ireland and England ready and willing to launch attacks.
“We are growing quietly and looking ahead to what we have to do,” one said.
“Young people don’t want politics and they are prepared to do what has to be done.
“There are no changes in procedures. Sometimes the opposition will be successful but sometimes they will not.”
Repeated approaches from Michael McKevitt’s Real IRA to enter into a violent alliance have also been rejected by the CIRA, it was claimed.
During his trial for directing terrorism, it emerged that McKevitt, the man who masterminded the Real IRA after he defected from the Provisionals in 1997, wanted the CIRA to join forces two years later in a new terrorist coalition.
Since then, however, some of his associates also made approaches that were rejected, according to Continuity figures.
One said: “They have come to us more than once but the offers were never taken up.
“They (the Real IRA) wanted total control, but they split from the Provos 10 years too late and there will never be an amalgamation.”