"We were not on ceasefire, we are committed to a campaign to end British rule, and there will be further operations by Oglaigh na hEireann," a Real IRA source has told the Sunday Tribune.
Until the attempted murder of two police officers within five days, the Real IRA's war was widely seen as fading. While not rejecting 'armed struggle' for moral reasons, the paramilitary group seemed to have accepted that, given current conditions in the North, it was impractical and served no purpose but to fill the jails.
The Real IRA is best known for killing 29 civilians in the 1998 Omagh bomb. Its failure to kill police officers or British soldiers has affected its credibility among potential supporters.
One theory was that dissidents deliberately didn't want to kill, fearing the ensuing security response, so they opted for low-level attacks like planting hoax devices on train lines and firebombs in shops.
"If there's been a lull, it's because we've been carrying out root-and-branch restructuring which was needed, particularly in Belfast," the Real IRA source said. "And sometimes, the lack of fatalities was down to bad luck."
The source denied the Derry policeman was targeted because he was a Catholic: "He was attacked because of the uniform he wears and the state he serves, not where he worships on a Sunday."
PSNI Chief Constable, Hugh Orde, linked the attacks to recent arrests of dissidents. "When an animal is cornered, it lashes out," he said. "That's ridiculous," the Real IRA source said. "The motivation for armed struggle is the same now as always – to end British rule in Ireland." Despite the shootings, the Real IRA remains incapable of a sustained campaign.