TCRG graffiti in Cavan

Dissident republicans say that six members of a leading Cavan gang involved in drug-dealing, vicious assaults and thefts have fled the country "in fear of their lives".

A prominent member of the 32 County Sovereignty Movement claimed republicans had broken up the gang "who were making life a nightmare" for local people.

He claimed that, while no violence was used, around 25 republicans wearing black shirts emblazoned with 'Fermanagh/Cavan 32 County Sovereignty Movement' had patrolled the streets.

They distributed leaflets warning that they "would not stand idly by while this community is attacked by anti-social elements led by sinister, criminal figures".

The spokesman said the gang had been attempting to arm itself by stealing shot-guns.

"It was a dangerous situation rapidly spiralling out of control," he said.

The gang known as TCRG – The Cavan Rebellion Group – was led by three Limerick criminals put out of that city eight months ago by the Dundon-McCarthy gang. These Limerick men, along with a Dublin criminal and two Cavan men, have now left the country, the spokesman said.

"There was no military action involved and no threats made. It was a community initiative. When they saw us on the streets, they knew they were no longer welcome. They have left Ireland. They got on planes in fear of their lives."

The spokesman said "anti-social activity" still existed in Cavan and the sovereignty movement intended to "step up patrols" in the town. "We'll be making our presence felt. We'll be on the streets to ensure that hoods aren't let run riot. We're also planning patrols in other Irish towns, on both sides of the border. If there is trouble, we'll sort it out."

TCRG boasted of its violence on social networking site Bebo, which included the names and photographs of alleged gang members. The gang, of around 30 members in their teens and early 20s, was led by men in their 30s.

The spokesman claimed local people approached Sinn Féin to stop the gang's activities. "Sinn Féin told them to go to the guards and the guards did virtually nothing. We became involved because people, at their wits' end, came to us for help."