Two unarmed uniformed gardai who stopped 10 men in paramilitary gear have been hailed as heroes by a judge.
Two of the men stopped by the gardai were jailed by the anti-terrorist Special Criminal Court yesterday for IRA membership.
Mr Justice Paul Butler, presiding at the court, said that "a very successful garda operation" was launched after an off-duty garda, Michael McCabe, spotted two cars with five men in each car acting suspiciously on the M1 in north Dublin and followed them.
The judge said that eventually Garda Brian Daly and Garda Enda Muldoon, of Santry garda station, stopped the cars, which contained 10 men in paramilitary type gear, in Balbriggan.
He said the two gardai were "quite heroic" and deserved "much praise" for that.
The two Dublin men who were in one of the cars were each jailed for six-and-a-half years.
Derek Palmer (56), a father-of-seven, of Corduff Green, Blanchardstown, and Joe Clarke (42), a father-of-four, of Geraldstown Woods, Santry, were convicted on December 14 last of membership of an unlawful organisation styling itself the Irish Republican Army, otherwise Oglaigh na hEireann, otherwise the IRA, on July 14, 2011.
Both men denied the charge.
The court suspended three years of Clarke's sentence after hearing an undertaking that he would not associate with subversives or members of illegal organisations and that he had been moved to Clover Hill prison after being in solitary confinement in Portlaoise Prison.
The court also suspended the final year of Palmer's sentence and said that while he had also given a similar undertaking, the court found it less credible.
Detective Sergeant Donal Prenty told the court that Palmer and Clarke were with eight other men in Balbriggan on the night in question when the two cars they were travelling in were stopped and searched.
Gardai found a number of balaclavas, gloves and a sledge hammer handle. A search of the area turned up a number of other items including a copy of 'Saoirse Nua' magazine, which included photographs of what was described as a republican funeral cortege and gardai believe Palmer and Clarke were in the photo.
Detective Sergeant Prenty said that Clarke had a previous conviction at the Special Criminal Court in November 2007 for IRA membership and had been jailed for four years.
He said that Palmer, who served in the Irish Army for three years, was convicted at the Special Criminal Court in January, 1992, and sentenced to five years for possession of firearms.
Palmer was also jailed for seven years by the Central Criminal Court in April, 1982, for possession of firearms.
He agreed with Palmer's counsel that Palmer had not served the 1982 sentence in any republican wing in prison.