Armed gardai arrest Celtic star's father in anti-terror swoop
THE father of Celtic star Anthony Stokes was in custody last night after a garda operation targeting dissident republicans and an organised crime gang.
John Stokes was one of three people arrested in a series of searches carried out in central Dublin and on the northside of the capital yesterday morning.
Up to a hundred gardai took part in the massive operation, led by detectives from the north central division and backed up by members of the Special Branch and the dog unit.
Gardai searched a public house and eight houses and apartments and recovered a small quantity of 9mm bullets and cocaine with a street value of €500.
The bullets were found in a shed at the rear of the Players Lounge pub in Fairview, owned by Mr Stokes, and the cocaine was also located there.
Mr Stokes, another man and a woman were all detained at the scene.
The three suspects, aged 54, 46 and 55 years, were all arrested under section 30 of the Offences Against the State Act and held for questioning at Store Street, Bridewell and Whitehall garda stations.
Other searches were carried out in Donaghmede, Artane, Cabra and an apartment block off Talbot Street.
The searches were part of an ongoing investigation into a series of incidents centred around a campaign of intimidation involving suspected Dublin-based members of the dissident republican group the Real IRA and a group of criminals formerly aligned with murdered gangland boss Eamon Dunne.
Gardai believe the intimidation is part of a "turf war" between the two factions who are trying to establish protection rackets, targeting pubs and clubs in the city. Last month, Mr Stokes appeared at Dublin district court where a judge ordered him to remove a 40-ft banner, barring Queen Elizabeth from entering his pub during her planned visit here next month.
The judge also warned that he was not to erect a similar sign.
A senior garda had threatened to object to Mr Stokes' application for late licences.
After the court hearing Mr Stokes said he would continue his protest against the queen's visit. But he acknowledged that the livelihood of his 12 employees was at risk if he could did not secure the licence extensions.
Last July, three innocent people -- two customers and a doorman -- were injured outside the Players Lounge when a gunman opened fire from the roadway.
Last night, ballistic tests were being carried out on the seized ammunition, while a forensic analysis of the cocaine was being completed.