MI5 apparently takes the group, and other dissidents seriously. The Derry Jouranl reported two weeks ago "MI5 has been redirecting some its resources away from investigations into Al-Qaeda towards tracking the Continuity IRA, the Real IRA and Óglaigh na hÉireann, according to the English papers."
The Belfast Telegraph reported last month that the group was believed to be raising money by extorting drug dealers in Dublin and Cork.
One element in the Real IRA's recent activity has been a wave of so-called "punishment" shootings and beatings of those they deem "antisocial elements" in nationalist working class areas. "These actions are taken as a last resort to protect the community. We are an integral part of the community and the people in them are our eyes and ears. The fact is that the British police force is rejected by republican communities and people naturally turn to us for help.
The threat against the British banking system is the first time the Real IRA has engaged in such open anti-capitalist rhetoric or focused on the role of the banking system.
According to Mr McDonald he was summonsed to a location near the border and told to go into the public toilet and reach behind the cistern where he found a USB key inside a surgical glove.
Therein was a detailed response to a list of questions he had put to the Real IRA from its national leadership.
Amongst the startling claims was a statement of intent to pursue a violent anti-capitalist agenda, through which banks and financial institutions would be targetted.
The statement read: "We have a track record of attacking high-profile economic targets and financial institutions such as the City of London.
"The role of bankers and the institutions they serve in financing Britain's colonial and capitalist system has not gone unnoticed.
"Let's not forget that the bankers are the next-door neighbours of the politicians. Most people can see the picture: the bankers grease the politicians' palms, the politicians bail out the bankers with public funds, the bankers pay themselves fat bonuses and loan the money back to the public with interest.
"It's essentially a crime spree that benefits a social elite at the expense of many millions of victims."
The group also claimed to have regrouped following a "turbulent period in republican history."
It claimed: "We have already shown our capacity to launch attacks on the British military, judicial, and policing infrastructure. As we rebuild, we are confident that we will increase the volume and effectiveness of attacks."
It also pointed to the replacement of the army's Operation Banner by Operation Helvetic and suggested republican communities were being victimised in Northern Ireland.
"From the point of view of republican communities, there is still a heavily armed British police force that casually uses plastic baton rounds, CS gas and Tasers, carry out house raids, stop and search operations and general harassment.
"There's still a 5,000-strong British army garrison, a new MI5 HQ in Belfast, and a British secretary of state.
"Republican communities are still subjected to sectarian parades and the right to protest is being met with intimidation and violence."
The organisation also said it would be willing to talk if the ending of the "illegal British occupation of Ireland" was on the agenda.
"The IRA is not unwilling to talk, in fact there needs to be talks … however, talks need to deal with the root cause of the conflict, namely the illegal British occupation of Ireland," it stated.
"We are mindful, though, that the history of such approaches from the British has been characterised by a lack of integrity, a lack of willingness to address the causes of conflict, and has been motivated by a self-serving agenda," it added.
As has now become customary the Real IRA also attacked Sinn Féin Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness as a manager of British rule.
"Martin McGuinness is a British Crown minister who has a vested interest in causing mischief among republicans.
"His job is to administer the Queen of England's writ in Ireland...However, if he has any evidence to back up his claims, he should make it public," the Real IRA said.