IRELAND could face a surge of dissident activity in 2016 as hard-line republicans look to mark the Easter Rising centenary, according to a former IRA commander turned informant.
Sean O’Callaghan said the anniversary should “give everybody cause for concern” just weeks after the New IRA sent parcel bombs to Britain.
Despite previously warning of the potential for attacks in Britain, he claimed last week that the biggest threat in 2016 would be posed by dozens of dissident parades in the North of Ireland.
“The Irish State will have to be careful about how it deals with the centenary and so will Sinn Fein, but the dissidents do not have to be careful at all,” O’Callaghan told The Irish Post.
“They want to celebrate it like hell, and you have to be careful about the loyalist reaction to that, particularly on the streets.”
He added: “We have seen one dissident parade in Belfast and a seriously ugly riot as a result. But that is just one and we are going to have dozens of these dissident parades across Northern Ireland in 2016.”
Some 26 police officers and two members of the public were injured in Belfast last August when hundreds of loyalists come out in violent protest against a parade featuring republican dissidents.
Police had to use plastic baton rounds and water cannon to restrain the rioting loyalists as 5,000 dissidents took part in the rally to mark the anniversary of internment.
O’Callaghan’s comments came at the London launch of a book by Sligo-born academic, John Morrison, called The Origins and Rise of Dissident Irish Republicanism.
Dr Morrison, a Senior Lecturer in Criminology and Criminal Justice at the University of East London, also warned of dissident threats in 2016, saying it needed to be “continuously monitored” by the authorities on each side of the Irish Sea.
In an interview with The Irish Post, O’Callaghan revealed he also worries the IRA will try to kill him in 2016.
“Those guys would like to kill me and obviously there are people within the mainstream republican movement who have great personal grudges to bear,” he said.
The Kerryman, who lives quietly in London for his own safety, added: “They have tried now and again over the years. I have had to move very fast once or twice.”