DUBLIN, Ireland, Feb. 8 (UPI) -- A breakaway sect of the Irish Republican Army claimed responsibility for a revenge killing last week, and police are now on high alert, expecting retaliation.
A man claiming to be a spokesman for the Continuity IRA, a paramilitary group that says it seeks the complete union of Ireland as a republic -- as did the Provisional Irish Republican Army which agreed to a 1994 ceasefire -- told the Belfast, Northern Ireland, office of the BBC in a statement that his group was responsible for the shooting death of David Byrne, 33.
Byrne, the spokesman said, was responsible for the 2012 of death of Alan Ryan, 32, of another faction, the Real IRA.
Byrne's shooting came at a preliminary weigh-in for a boxing match in a Dublin hotel at which about 300 people were present. Two people were wounded, and a number of attendees, threatened at gunpoint, fled. Six gunmen were believe to be involved, and two, one dressed as a woman in a wig, were observed running from the hotel. The boxing match, scheduled for Saturday, was cancelled.
At the time of Ryan's death in 2012, it was reported the Real IRA was involved with local drug dealers and in a feud with gangland criminals. Police expressed skepticism the Continuity IRA was involved in the incident, and indicated they believed it was part of an ongoing feud between Irish gangsters.
"We are not going to stand back and allow drug dealers and criminals to target republicans...This will not be an isolated incident...Continuity IRA units have been authorized to carry out further operations. More drug dealers and criminals will be targeted...The Continuity IRA will carry out further military operations," the statement read in part.
After the incident, Ireland's justice minister, Frances Fitzgerald, was asked why journalists staked out the weigh-in, anticipating trouble, while the Garda, the Irish police, were not present.
"The answer the Garda Commissioner has given: there was no operational intelligence in relation to this event," she said, adding she had received regular briefings on the incident from Garda Commissioner Noirin O'Sullivan, but noted a lack of police presence at the weigh-in was not an issue of available resources.
"She (O'Sullivan) said that is not the reason. There was not operational intelligence in relation to this particular event, that's the reason," Fitzgerald said.
The police have set up armed checkpoints in Dublin, anticipating retaliation for Byrne's killing.