In February 2014, letter bombs were sent to nine British military recruitment offices over the course of three days. Londonderry postmarks, a coded message sent to a Northern Irish newspaper, and security forces at Downing Street all pointed to the New IRA as the main suspects.
Last Summer, VICE News visited Derry and heard from Gary Donnelly—the most prominent dissident republican in Londonderry, accused of leading operations for the Real IRA—that these attacks on Britain were to be expected as part of "strategic attacks on high-profile targets," as "it's England that's occupying Ireland."
In Free Derry: The IRA Drug War, VICE News investigates how, 16 years after the Good Friday peace agreement and on the eve of the first major loyalist parade through the city in four years, dissident republican activity in Derry is increasing, thanks to the merger of the Real IRA with anti-drug vigilantes.
VICE News reporter Alex Miller speaks to members of the Republican Action Against Drugs (RAAD), who formed the coalition with the Real IRA, and meets supporters as young as 13 who are being armed with petrol bombs to combat criminal gangs and intervening police.
For the first time, Paul Stewart, a close friend of slain Dublin Real IRA leader Alan Ryan, speaks on camera about witnessing the murder, as well as sharing insights on Ryan's war against drug dealers.
Miller also interviews the mother of Andrew Smith, a man who she says was murdered by the Real IRA despite no affiliation with drug-related crime, before hearing from a Derry ex-drug dealer who now claims that, if the New IRA didn't fight drugs, "this town would be filled with ecstasy and rat poison, and kids would be dying."
VICE News encounters a city where kneecappings and shootings are rife, where walls are branded with anti-UK slogans, and where a policeman can scarcely walk down the street—according to Gary Donnelly—"without being killed."