Dissidents bomb Lord's estate
A large bomb was partially detonated by the Real IRA at the empty home
of an industrialist and unionist peer in another attack by the
breakaway armed republican group.
The 70 lb bomb attack on the County Louth estate of Ulster Unionist
peer Lord Ballyedmond of Mourne is the latest incident in a new wave of
attacks by republican hardliners. The dissidents are reported to be
growing in force and number, particularly in border areas.
The mansion being built by Lord Ballyedmond presented a convenient but
symbolic target for dissidents in the border area, who evaded
construction workers and security measures to plant the device.
Unionists said Lord Ballyedmond's political contacts in the 26 Counties
had been "very helpful" to the party in the run-up to the Good
The incident followed the Real IRA's claim of responsibility last week
for fires in the commercial centre of Newry, County Down, and
explosions on the nearby Belfast-Dublin railway line.
Meanwhile, there have been unconfirmed reports of defections by IRA
Volunteers in the South Derry area.
Efforts by Sinn Fein to prepare grassroots republicans for a move to
support the PSNI police -- potentially the most difficult and
ground-breaking concession of all -- is already beginning to polarise
republican opinion, although a move on the issue is unlikely in the
Tensions between republican hardliners and Sinn Fein were not eased
last weekend when a plan to read out a statement by republican
prisoners at Maghaberry prison to the party's commemorative hunger
strike rally at Casement Park was reportedly nixed at the last minute.
The prisoners are currently engaged in a protest at Maghaberry prison
for recognition of their political status, strongly echoing the aims of
the blanket protest and hunger strikes of the eighties.
This week the families of Patsy O'Hara and Michael Devine, Irish
National Liberation Army (INLA) hunger strikers, also protested about
Sinn Fein's handling of hunger strike commemorations.