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Sunday, December 6, 1998 Published at 17:25 GMT

RUC chief warns of terrorist threat

The Real IRA admitted responsibility for the Omagh bombing

Republican terrorists opposed to the peace process are receiving help from members of the so-called Real IRA, the group that planted the Omagh bomb and then announced a ceasefire, according to RUC Chief Constable Ronnie Flanagan.

RUC Chief Constable Ronnie Flanagan: No doubt that there are contacts between organisations
He said he was worried that the so-called Continuity IRA was getting individual backing from the Real IRA which carried out the August attack in which 29 people were killed.

Speaking on BBC One's On the Record, Mr Flanagan said he considered that all paramilitary organisations were still a threat - including those which had called a cessation of military operations.

"While they have significantly reduced their level of activity, not one of them has reduced their capability by one iota," he said.

The chief constable added: "I have no doubt that at membership level, there are contacts and there is some blurring of the edges between all of these organisations.

[ image: Mr Flanagan: All paramilitaries still a threat]
Mr Flanagan: All paramilitaries still a threat
"So even if an organisation states a position, that is not to say that at grass roots level members won't assist other organisations who are not in a cessation of violence.

"So we would have some concern that the Continuity IRA would have some individual assistance from members of the so-called Real IRA."

Since the Omagh bombing on 15 August, the Real IRA and the Continuity IRA are not known to have been involved in any terrorist attacks, but the CIRA is still believed to be active.

And even though both groups have denied any links, republican Sinn Fein is believed to be the political wing of the Continuity IRA and the 32-County Sovereignty Committee connected to the Real IRA.

Political talks

Geraldine Taylor of Republican Sinn Fein confirmed on the same programme that the two organisations had been involved in talks.

She said: "Basically their beliefs are the same as ours. The reason they came into being was because of the last ceasefire [August l994].

"And they felt that it wasn't a ceasefire, it was a surrender, just like ourselves. So the basic republican principles are there as well."

Bernadette Sand McKevitt, of the 32-County Sovereignty Committee, claimed the republican leadership had more or less accepted defeat.

She claimed: "I think the leadership have deceived a lot of people and I think that will become more and more apparent as time goes on.

"We were told that they would not go into the talks and they did. We were told that they would not accept the Mitchell Principles and they did.

"We were told they would not go into Stormont and they have. And they are telling us that they won't decommission. So all I can say is time will tell."

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