The following statement was released to the Sunday Tribune on Friday 6th March. An article based on it was published in the Sunday Tribune on Sunday March the 6th by Suzanne Breen. It was given to the Plough on Friday 13th and we re-publish it without comment.
Statement on behalf of the Leadership of the Irish National Liberation Army
We would like to place on public record the position of the Irish National Liberation Army on the continued accusation of criminality made against the I.N.L.A. from a range of sources, including the British and Irish Governments the IMC, the PSNI and the Gardai, the Media and Provisional Sinn Fein. A series of briefing against the Irish National Liberation Army have included lies distortions and inaccuracies.
The Irish National Liberation Army has no involvement in the drug trades. We have taken action against those who use the name of the INLA as a cover for their own rotten drug dealing and will do so in the future if necessary.
In the North West of Ireland two individuals who had never any connection with our movement were warned to desist from their activities and were subsequently dealt with. One had set up a so called “I.N.L.A. gang” as a cover for drug dealing and intimidation and recruited a number of impressionable young people. The other had used the name “Irish National Liberation Army” in connection with his drug dealing activities and extorted money from a number of families in the Limavady area.
In a number of areas we have, in conjunction with local communities, closed down a number of drug gangs preying on working class communities. We don’t turn a blind eye to drug dealing in areas in return for a percentage cut, for to do so would be to condone the drugs trade.
But we recognise that the drug problem is a complex issue and that it requires a multi agency approach in order to hold that problem at bay. The z Irish National Liberation Army recognise that it cannot solve the drug problem. That can only be done by a united community response against the dealers. However the use by British state agencies of those same drug dealers as informers, touts and provocateurs against republicanism means that the drug culture will continue to poison working class communities.
Where evidence is given to us of serious accusations against our members we investigate. If our membership deviates from our policy they are dealt with. But it is worth pointing out that no past or current member has been convicted for drug offences while a member of the movement.
However we do take accusations seriously and as a result of evidence presented to us are currently investigating activities of people associated with us in a major Irish city. As a result pending the outcome of those enquires we have stood down a number of people.
It has also been alleged by those closely associated with provisional Sinn Fein that the Irish National Liberation Army and indeed a prominent member of the IRSP and a former long tern political prisoner, was involved in a contract killing in the North West against a sheep farmer. We utterly refute this accusation. Indeed we go so far as to say they who made the accusations should look closer to home.
Accusations have been made that the Irish National Liberation Army have been involved in a series of so-called Tiger Kidnappings in North Belfast. We are aware that there are a number of criminal gangs have been involved in these. Those gangs contain individuals who a number of years ago were dismissed from the movement with ignominy. The Irish National Liberation Army had no hand or part in those kidnappings. We have warned those involved to desist from their activities
So-called “Dissident” Activity.
We also note that in these comments and briefings we are referred to as “dissidents”. In so far as we disagree with the current political set up and the continued existence of a British administration based on Stormont, yes we do dissent. No republican can do other. We have always rejected the Good Friday Agreement but we have only encouraged political opposition to it.
We are not and will not be, in any military alliance with other armed republican organisations.
We strictly adhere to the position as outlined in our 1998 ceasefire statement.
“-the conditions for armed struggle do not exist”——–“It is now time to silence the guns and allow the working classes the time and opportunity to advance their demands and their needs. See (endnote 1)
Since 1998 we have encouraged people to engage in political as opposed to military activity. In the current political circumstances we believe that is the only viable option. That is one of the reasons we have encourage Republican Socialists to engage with other republicans in broad front groups such as the Forum for Republican Unity to pose Republican Alternatives to the current political set up.
We utterly reject the stream of erroneous reports from the IMC (see end note ii) a body that believes Ardoyne is in West Belfast. (Page 5 IMC Report 20). The continued regurgitation of gossip, speculation, half-truths and British propaganda emanating from that body is worthy of the gutter press. For the record the Irish National Liberation Army is not in the process of targeting, encouraging young people to engage in inter community conflict or drug dealing.
On the contrary we have totally endorsed the activities of our ex-prisoners through Teach Na Failte to lessen sectarian tensions at interfaces to support cross community work with young people and to encourage working class solidarity. Our ex-prisoners are active in reaching out to all working class communities. A range of community groups, voluntary organizations and Government agencies can confirm this.( Not that we expect the IMC to actually investigate this.)
The Irish National Liberation Army
Finally the leadership of the Irish re-affirms its total commitment to the 1998 ceasefire. Any actions we take or have taken are to defend the integrity of our movement, protect our membership and ensure that vulnerable working class communities have some defence against sectarian attacks. We pose no threat to loyalist or unionist working class communities.