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Real IRA, Northern Irish Terror Group, Threatens Bankers

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Northern Irish militant group Real I.R.A., an offshoot of the Irish Republican Army, has turned its violent focus on bankers and banks, in response to popular hostility against the financial community, spokespeople told The Guardian.

The group, which The Guardian says has 100 activists, pointed to its "track record of attacking high-profile economic targets" in the U.K. In 2000 and 2001, Real I.R.A. activists set off bombs at London cars and a post office.

In what The Guardian says is the group's first public threat against the financial community, the Real I.R.A. called bankers "criminals" and said the recent cycle of bailouts and bonuses was "essentially a crime spree that benefits a social elite at the expense of many millions of victims."

In 1990, the Provisional I.R.A. bombed the London Stock Exchange, and in 1996, it bombed Canary Wharf, the London business district. Both incidents occurred before the Real I.R.A. splintered off in 1997. But "security sources," reports The Guardian, don't think the newer group has the resources to launch what the newspaper calls "large-scale bombings."

Violence, which could include "punishment shootings and expulsions," the Real I.R.A. told The Guardian, is "a last resort to protect the community."

Yesterday, Derek Barnett, president of the Police Superintendents' Association of England and Wales, told the Telegraph that austere fiscal policy could cause "disaffection, social and industrial tensions."

Such unrest, albeit to a much less violent degree than threatened by the Real I.R.A., has already been raging in Greece, where prime minister George Papandreou is sticking firmly to a policy of austerity in the face of that country's severe economic woes. Protesters also took to the streets in France last week, anticipating what the AP called a "season of strikes."

Editor's note: An earlier version of this story indicated that the attacks in 1990 and 1996 were carried out by the Real I.R.A. This version now reflects that they were done by the Provisional I.R.A.

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