Declan Duffy: stood down

The INLA has stood down its entire Dublin brigade, including leader Declan 'Wacko' Duffy, following allegations of criminality and drug dealing.

In a two-page statement given to the Sunday Tribune, the INLA's national leadership has responded to extensive allegations that it is involved in contract killings, extortion, tiger kidnappings and the drugs trade on both sides of the border.

The INLA denied that as an organisation it was involved in such activities and said no current or past member had ever been convicted of drugs' offences whilst involved in the movement.

But it added: "Where evidence is given to us of serious accusations against our members, we investigate. If members deviate from our policy, they are dealt with. As a result of evidence presented to us, we are investigating the activities of people associated with us in [Dublin]. Pending that outcome, we have stood down several people."

The statement will be formally released tomorrow. The INLA's strongly Northern-based army council insists it has "full control" on both sides of the border. The internal "investigation" into the Dublin brigade's activities will conclude shortly. Any members "found guilty" will be expelled.

Duffy is currently in Portlaoise prison facing charges of INLA membership. Reports have linked him to a gangland feud with drugs' boss 'Fat' Freddie Thompson.

Dublin INLA members been accused of gun and bomb attacks as they move in on Thompson's patch. They have also allegedly sold pipe bombs to criminal gangs.

Duffy (34), originally from south Armagh, joined the INLA as a teenager.

The statement said: "The INLA has no involvement in the drugs trade. We've taken action against those who use our name as cover for their own rotten drug dealing and will do so in future if necessary." The group recently murdered two alleged Derry drug dealers.

The INLA claimed Sinn Féin had briefed the Police Service of Northern Ireland and media that the INLA was involved in the contract killing of sheep farmer Patrick Devine in Co Derry.

His murder followed disputes with other farmers over sheep stealing. However, the INLA claimed local IRA members, acting independently, were responsible for the murder.

Responding to allegations it was behind tiger kidnappings in Belfast, the INLA said the gangs responsible included individuals who years earlier had been "dismissed with ignominy" from its ranks: "The INLA had no part in those kidnappings. We've warned those involved to desist from their activities."