Senior members of the militant republican group, known as the New IRA, have said that Brexit has helped to drive recruitment amongst young supporters as there is a renewed focus on the border and partition.
Speaking to The Sunday Times a representative of the New IRA told the reporter that:
“Brexit has forced the IRA to refocus and has underlined how Ireland remains partitioned […]
It would be remiss of us not to capitalise on the opportunity. It’s put the border on the agenda again.”
The group further acknowledged that their violent acts did not progress the cause for a unified Ireland but instead were symbolic acts.
One dissident told reporters:
"They are symbolic. They are propaganda. They let the world know there is an ongoing conflict in Northern Ireland. Condemning the IRA is nothing new. We are not interested in being popular. Republicanism has always been a small core of people.”
The New IRA has admitted to the “unintentional” shooting of journalist Lyra McKee during a clash with police in Derry, a stronghold for Republicanism.
The group further stated:
"Young people are being radicalised because they have no one to turn to […] There are no left-wing political parties any more. Sinn Fein don’t represent republicans. They are a centrist party now.”
A report compiled by two UNESCO chairmen in February warned that a harder border in Ireland due to a no-deal Brexit or a rushed border poll would lead to the “inevitable” return of violence.
Young people who are marginal are especially vulnerable to “being groomed into violent activity by dissident republicans including the 'New IRA’" states the report.
The 'New IRA', had split from the IRA due to a rejection of the 1997 ceasefire and subsequent 1998 Good Friday Agreement.They continues to seek the reunification of Ireland. In 2012 the original IRA had merged with several other smaller Republican militant groups.
The New IRA has been linked to violent incidents over the years including in 2014 when the group sent seven letter bombs to British Army recruitment offices in South-East England. This was the first Republican attack on the mainland UK since 2001. They are also suspected to be responsible for a car bombing attack on a courthouse in Derry earlier this year in January and in 2016 they were blamed for an attack in Belfast which left two injured and one dead.