In a statement released to the Guardian on Thursday, three republican terror groups announced they were merging to form a new IRA in Northern Ireland.

The Real IRA, the vigilante group Republican Action Against Drugs (RAAD) as well as a coalition of smaller dissident groups will form under the banner of the IRA to intensify terror attacks against symbols of the British establishment and against unionists. 

RAAD have taken on a violent militant approach in recent years, forcibly expelling people involved in drug dealing in Northern Ireland's second-largest city Derry.

The Real IRA has been active since the 1990s, involved in bombings in England and in Northern Ireland, including the Omagh bombing of 1998, which killed 29 people.

The Belfast Telegraph reported the full statement on Friday, which criticized the Irish republican party Sinn Féin: "In recent years the establishment of a free and independent Ireland has suffered setbacks due to the failure among the leadership of Irish nationalism and fractures within republicanism.”

"The necessity of armed struggle in pursuit of Irish freedom can be avoided through the removal of the British military presence in our country, the dismantling of their armed militias and the declaration of an internationally observed timescale that details the dismantling of British political interference in our country."

Dr. Alasdair McDonnell, leader of Northern Ireland's Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP) expressed his concerns on Ulster TV: "They want to fill our jails, they want to fill our cemeteries and they want to deny our young people any opportunity for a job or prosperity.

"Neither this new so-called IRA, the Continuity IRA or any other iteration of dissident threat will destabilize the structures and partnerships that have underpinned the relative peace of the last 14 years."


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