DUBLIN — A new Irish Republican Army faction in Northern Ireland claimed responsibility Monday for its first killing and defended the bloodshed as a necessary act of vengeance.
The group, a merger of factions that brands itself as simply the IRA, said in a statement to the Irish News in Belfast its members shot to death David Black this month because he worked as a guard at Northern Ireland’s top-security Maghaberry prison.
About 40 members of IRA factions are imprisoned there. The inmates have protested for more than a year against a policy of strip-searching them in search of weapons, drugs and cellphones.
Black, 52, was shot as he drove to work on Nov. 1. He had worked as a guard for three decades and expected to retire soon.
He was the first prison officer killed in Northern Ireland since 1993, the year before the dominant anti-British paramilitary group, the Provisional IRA, began an open-ended truce that inspired Northern Ireland’s peace process. The Provisionals renounced violence and disarmed in 2005.
The group that claimed Black’s killing was formed in July by the merger of three splinter groups led by former Provisionals who still pursue violence. The merger represented an effort by breakaway IRA members to mount a more coherent campaign, given that most of their bombings and shootings fail because of faulty equipment or British intelligence tipoffs.