Dissident Republicans pose a lethal threat in Northern Ireland but are not expected to reignite the type of conflict that cost over 3,600 lives in the last century, a government observer group said on Wednesday.
A 1998 peace deal largely ended the violence known as Northern Ireland's "Troubles" that for three decades pitted predominantly Catholic groups who want a united Ireland against mainly Protestant unionists in favour of allegiance to Britain.
Dissidents have stepped up attacks since last year, killing two British soldiers and a policeman in March 2009, but the Independent Monitoring Commission (IMC) said their actions did not mirror the campaign once run by the Provisional IRA (PIRA).
"Dissident groups remain highly active and dangerous... However it is important to point out that this is in no way a reappearance of something comparable to the PIRA campaign," said the report from the IMC, set up by the British and Irish governments in 2004.
The report said the Real IRA (RIRA) and Continuity IRA -- the main groups opposed to Belfast's power-sharing executive -- were recruiting and training on both sides of the Irish border but lacked the resources militants had during the "Troubles".
"Operationally the RIRA does not have comparable resources in terms of personnel, money, organisation and cohesion, or range of weaponry and expertise, and it has not matched the range and tempo of PIRA's activities."
"It has neither significant local nor international support. While the threat from RIRA is dangerously lethal, it is also politically marginal."
The four-person panel, whose members included a former deputy director of the CIA, said the recent devolution of policing and criminal justice powers from London sent out a potent message to paramilitaries.
The report -- including findings from police, former paramilitaries and their victims, and pressure groups -- covered a period in which a car bomb exploded outside a Northern Irish courthouse, causing no serious injury, but marking the first time such a device was successfully detonated there in a decade.
On Wednesday, the brother of a Provisional IRA member shot dead by Britain's Special Air Service (SAS) in Gibraltar more than 20 years ago appeared in court in Northern Ireland charged with the car bomb attack.
Ciaran Farrell, 51, is the brother of Mairead Farrell who was one of three IRA members shot dead by the British special forces in an undercover operation in 1988.
ReutersLast Mod: 26 Mayıs 2010, 18:23