Who are the New IRA?
Police in Northern Ireland say the ‘primary focus’ in their investigation into the Omagh shooting is the New IRA.
Police say the “primary focus” of their investigation into the shooting of a senior police officer in Northern Ireland is the New IRA.
Detective Chief Inspector John Caldwell was shot a number of times by masked men in front of young people he had been coaching football for at the Youth Sports Centre in Omagh, Co Tyrone, on Wednesday evening.
His young son was with him at the time, police said.
Three men have since been arrested on suspicion of attempted murder, the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) said.
At a press conference in Belfast, PSNI chief constable Simon Byrne said: “This morning we have arrested three men aged 38, 45 and 47 in Omagh and Coalisland in connection with John’s attempted murder.
“They’re currently being questioned by detectives at Musgrave serious crime suite.”
Caldwell remains in a critical but stable condition in hospital after the attack, which Irish premier Leo Varadkar described as a “grotesque act of attempted murder”.
Caldwell is a high-profile officer who has led a number of major investigations, including taking a leading role in the murder probe following the killing of Natalie McNally in Lurgan, Co Armagh, in December.
Watch: Investigation launched after police officer is shot in Omagh
Who is the New IRA?
The New IRA was formed in 2012 from members of the Real IRA, Republican Action Against Drugs (RAAD) and several independent republicans.
While dubbed the New IRA by the media, many members continue to use the ‘Irish Republican Army’ monicker.
The PSNI estimate the group to have a membership of up to 300 military activists.
The New IRA is a splinter group of the Provisional IRA, which declared a ceasefire in 1997.
What do they stand for?
While the Provisional IRA’s political wing, Sinn Fein, took over the group’s aim of ending British rule in Northern Ireland, the new IRA continues to wage an armed and deadly campaign.
The group is said to be made up of younger members and focuses on violence to achieve its aim of a united Ireland.
How active are they?
The group is responsible for several gun and bomb attacks and murders, including on a prison officer in 2012.
In 2014 they sent seven letter bombs to the British Army recruitment offices in south-east England, while they have also targeted the PSNI.
More attacks have taken place over the past 10 years, including the fatal shooting of journalist Lyra McKee in 2019.
McKee was not the intended target in the shooting and the group apologised to her friends and family.
Before Wednesday’s shooting in Omagh, the group continued their campaign of violence as recently as 2022.
Who is the leader?
The head of the New IRA is believed to be former Provisional IRA member Thomas Mellon.
Mellon is a prominent activist for far-left political party Saoradh, which was formed by dissident Irish republicans in 2016.
The PSNI say Saoradh is closely tied with the New IRA, but the party have denied this.
Saoradh have described Northern Ireland’s status in the UK as an “illegal occupation”.