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Dissident Republicans in the spotlight in the next UTV ‘UP CLOSE’

Utv up close deadly intent graphic

“It’s well past time to take the gun out of Irish politics.” – Dominic McGlinchey Jnr.

The next episode of UTV’s award winning current affairs programme ‘Up Close’ investigates the growing threat posed by the New IRA and other Republican dissident groups. 

Airing tonght, Thursday 7 June, at 10.45pm, and presented by UTV’s Gareth Wilkinson, the hour-long programme looks at dissident Republican groups in the wake of the attempted murder of the PSNI’s DCI John Caldwell, examines if they can they sustain a long war, and asks if they can they ever be defeated?

Gareth speaks to PSNI officers past and present, families of victims, and experts in dissident history to paint a picture of their activities and what the future might hold.  Two prominent Republicans speak on TV for the first time about their change of views about the armed struggle.

The PSNI’s DCS Eamonn Corrigan speaking on UTV’s Up Close

The PSNI’s DCS Eamonn Corrigan speaking on UTV’s Up Close

The PSNI’s DCS Eamonn Corrigan talks about the attack on DCI John Caldwell outside Omagh and tells Gareth that he believes he knows who carried out what he described a “completely abhorrent, reckless and cowardly” attack. 

Suzanne Breen, Political Editor at the Belfast Telegraph gives analysis of the background of the dissident Republican groups, how they were formed and the attacks they have carried out over the years.  

We also get an insight into the previous activities of the New IRA who admitted responsibility for shooting John Caldwell, and its predecessor, the Real IRA, who along with the Continuity IRA, carried out the Omagh bomb in 1998.

The Real IRA also murdered former UDR member David Caldwell in 2002. 

Gillian McFall, daughter of David Caldwell who was murdered by the Real IRA in 2002.

Gillian McFall, daughter of David Caldwell who was murdered by the Real IRA in 2002.

His daughter Gillian McFaul, speaking on television for the first time, tells Gareth about his death and how no one has been brought to justice for it.  

Des Dalton, the ex-President of Republican Sinn Fein, a political group that shares the same analysis as the Continuity IRA, that armed struggle is legitimate, speaks to Gareth. Two years ago he said that the time for violence is over and was suspended from the group.

Des Dalton, the ex-President of Republican Sinn Fein

Des Dalton, the ex-President of Republican Sinn Fein

He shares his views on television for the first time. He explains how when he gave his personal view at an oration in Lurgan that Lyra McKee’s death was “completely unjustifiable”, RSF suspended him for six months, and he subsequently resigned.  Whilst he still considers himself a Republican, he believes the recent sporadic violence by armed groups is wrong and ultimately futile.

Dominic McGlinchey Jnr, also speaks on television for the first time about how he has changed his mind about armed struggle. His father and mother were both active Republicans and were both murdered during the Troubles. 

Dominic McGlinchey Jnr

Dominic McGlinchey Jnr speaking to Gareth Wilkinson

He hopes to persuade young people not to take up the gun, saying it "condemns young working class men to decades of misery – not only them, their families as well.”

The programme shines a light on the use of informers to infiltrate Irish Republicanism, and how the police use ‘Stop and Search.’

Gareth speaks to Paddy Gallagher from the group Saoradh, who says that ‘Stop and Search’ is harassment and that it is just “part of life and the ongoing struggle.” He says it doesn’t “alter his republican activism.”

DCS Corrigan understands that ‘Stop and Search’ can be divisive within communities, but says that it is a necessary tool for all policing.

Sara Canning, partner of Lyra McKee

Later in the programme, Gareth meets Sara Canning, partner of Lyra McKee at the spot where she was shot, four years on from her death. During the interview, a driver of a passing car shouts a republican slogan at her.

She refuses to be intimidated, saying, “This is my city,” and “They took everything from me that day... they completely ruined the life that I had.”

The programme ends with examining if dissident Republicans can ever be defeated, and what the future holds for them.

Marisa McGlinchey, an academic who has researched dissidents for several years feels there will continue to be occasional incidents against police but doesn’t see it escalating.

Detective Corrigan says: “Policing will never completely solve the problem of dissident Republicans”, and while the PSNI strives to tackle the dissident groups, he says that “stopping terrorism, that comes from communities.”

Dominic McGlinchey Jnr. says the war is over and that Republicans “shouldn’t allow themselves to be pigeonholed into militancy,” saying, “It is now and well past time to take the gun out of Irish politics.”

Paddy Gallagher from Saoradh says that it is difficult to go down a political path, but believes that there will be a united Ireland in his lifetime.

Brendan McCourt, who produced and directed the programme for UTV said:

"I have closely followed the twists and turns of the dissident Republican story over the past 25 years, from their early beginnings to the present day. Having made five films about them, it seems there will always be those who are prepared to use violence to achieve their political aims."

UTV Presenter Gareth Wilkinson

Presenter Gareth Wilkinson said:

“Thank you to everyone who took part, especially those who talked so openly to us about their experiences. We hope that this ‘Up Close’ will help viewers gain an insight into the world of dissidents in Northern Ireland.”

Up Close’ airs Thursday night (8th June) at 10.45pm on UTV.


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