IRISH men and women serving in the British Army are “legitimate targets”, the Continuity IRA has warned.
The dissidents issued this chilling threat at an annual commemoration in Limerick for the republican Sean South.
The event was organised by Republican Sinn Féin and attended by around 60 people.
The statement was issued in front of gardaí on behalf of Continuity IRA prisoners in Portlaoise Prison.
Read by Michael Kiely, from Corbally in Limerick, it said: “We have seen from recent years that in this city of Limerick Irishmen are considering a career in the British Army.
The same British Army that holds six of our counties. Whether they are motivated by financial reasons or a sense of adventurism, we take this opportunity to say that the moment you don a British uniform, you become a legitimate target for the IRA.”
It continued: “The lessons of Irish history teach us that as long as the British presence remains in Ireland, there will always be those who oppose it by whatever means necessary. This war is not over — it will only be over when the last British soldier is driven from our shores.”
The threat comes less than a month after it was revealed Limerick gardaí foiled a Continuity IRA plot to murder a British soldier who was due to visit his home in the city at Christmas. But speaking to The Irish Post, a senior security source poured cold water on the recent threat.
“This is just posturing and terror by media once again,” he said. “These guys will try and kill in the south if they have the opportunity but their targets are very limited. These groups are primarily involved in criminal activities and there’s no glory or heroism in any of this, it’s a form of gangsterism.
“Thousands used to attend this commemoration and it’s down to 60 or so now. The mid-west region has a sizeable population but this is all they could muster on a fine day.
“That’s an indication of strength. These guys are clearly recognised and would be well known to special branch officers operating in Limerick city.”
It is understood that the British soldier who was threatened is in his 20s and did not travel home after gardaí learned of the threat to his life. Our source added: “It has always been the case that Irish people in the British Army would be secretive about their occupations.
“In general when Irish people join the British Army, they go over and don’t declare to people what they are at for their own safety and the safety of their families.
“Even at the height of the Troubles, there was a trickle of southern Irish guys joining the British Army. Our own army is quite restrictive.” It is estimated that the number of Irish nationals who have joined the British Army in the last three years has doubled.
“It’s a way of life for young men,” said the security source. “Most Irish guys who join the British Army would at least have achieved the Leaving Cert standard while you find that most of those in this parade or grouping are largely disenfranchised or not particularly high intellectual achievers. This is their notoriety, to stand in a parade and march in their paramilitary uniform.
“It must be remembered that in recent years, there was a British military funeral in the heart of Ballyfermot in Dublin. There was also the funeral of Robert McKibbin in Mayo in 2008 where the military was openly able to parade in uniform and a full burial took place for the soldier.
“A number of years ago, that wouldn’t have happened and wouldn’t have been allowed by British or by Irish State authorities.”