A splinter IRA group has issued a warning in advance of Queen Elizabeth's upcoming visit to Ireland, calling the queen a "war criminal" and saying it will take steps to make sure that she gets the message that she is "not wanted on Irish soil."
A man wearing a ski mask, a beret and a green military outfit delivered the message during an Easter Sunday rally at a cemetery in Derry, Northern Ireland, less than a week before the wedding of Kate Middleton and Prince William, Elizabeth's grandson. He claimed to be a member of Oglaigh na hEireann, a name used most recently by a faction of the Real IRA, one of several splinter groups that reject the Irish peace process and have claimed credit for a recent uptick in political violence.
"Oglaigh na hEireann urge all self-respecting Irishmen and women to resist the upcoming insult that is the visit of a British monarch to Irish soil," the man told the crowd in a seven-minute speech. "The queen of England is wanted for war crimes in Ireland and not wanted on Irish soil. We will do our best to ensure she and the gombeen class that act as her cheerleaders get that message." "Gombeen" is an Irish term that means profiteer or moneylender. Elizabeth is scheduled to visit the Republic of Ireland for three days in May.
The masked man condemned the Irish peace process and threatened the further killing of police officers. A 25-year-old police officer, Constable Ronan Kerr, was killed earlier this month by a car bomb in Omagh, Northern Ireland. "Those who think they are serving their community are in fact serving the occupation," said the man, "and will be treated as such."
He closed by vowing that that "the IRA, in cooperation with others, will continue to resist the occupation to the best of our ability. ... Victory to the IRA!"
The traditional, or Provisional, IRA, has declared an end to armed struggle, but several dissident Irish Republican groups like the Real IRA and the Continuity IRA have mounted a new campaign of political violence in recent years, with more than 40 significant attacks in 2010. Experts say the resurgent Irish Republican groups also want an attack inside England to demonstrate their strength.
Senior British security officials told ABC News there is "concrete intelligence" that the groups have been trying to move operations beyond Northern Ireland to London. MI5, the security agency in charge of countering domestic terrorism in Britain, has recently increased surveillance of suspected Irish terror leaders, shifted resources from Al Qaeda to the Irish groups and raised the threat of Irish-related terrorism from moderate to substantial.
Concern has also been heightened with the upcoming Royal Wedding, which has captured the world's attention and could be an attractive target for terror attacks, say experts.
"I think there's no doubt the dissidents have the intent, and they are increasingly showing they have the capability," said Martyn Frampton, a professor at Queen Mary University of London and author of "Legion of the Rearguard: Dissident Irish Republicanism." "If you put those two things together, you do have a very serious threat."