A GROUP of dissident republicans with links to slain terror chief Alan Ryan tried to break into the Dail last week before causing widespread chaos that brought the capital to a halt.
The Sunday Independent today unmasks the shadowy group – which styles itself the Irish Republican Voice – who brought misery to tens of thousands of commuters on Wednesday.
Consisting of a few hundred individuals, the group has been actively trying to recruit in Dublin over the past month. Despite their tiny numbers, they managed to infiltrate a larger protest outside the Dail organised by socialist Richard Boyd Barrett and bring traffic to a standstill in the city centre.
A number of the dissidents were arrested following violent clashes with gardai, but they have since been released without charge.
There are now fears that the group – buoyed by its success in shutting down the city – is planning to employ similar "Belfast-style" tactics in future confrontations.
On Wednesday, a hard core of 40 to 50 of Ryan's supporters were forced back by gardai after they tried to force their way into the Dail in the morning and caused disruption at several locations in the city centre.
They invaded the GPO, shouted insults outside the Sinn Fein offices in Parnell Square and then targeted the Central Bank before blocking traffic for nearly two hours at Bachelors Walk, causing a two-hour gridlock.
Their attempt to storm the Central Bank was stopped by a quick-thinking garda on a bicycle who rode ahead of them and had the gates shut.
The Irish Republican Voice was formed last year after yet another split between warring dissident republican factions. It has been putting up posters with a mobile phone number around Dublin in an attempt to recruit members, but the group remains relatively small. It was at the centre of most of the disruption as the Dail reconvened after the summer recess.
Gardai south of the Liffey were well prepared for protests on the opening day of the Dail. An "anti-austerity" rally was applied for at 6.30pm in Molesworth Street opposite the Dail by the People before Profit group led by TD Richard Boyd Barrett. Several other legitimate groups took part in that rally, during which there were arguments with the mob linked to Ryan.
The Ryan group and two other small dissident republican groups tried to hi-jack the legitimate protest. When they grabbed barriers to try to ram their way through the garda cordon outside the Dail, gardai used pepper spray on the ringleaders.
Ryan's supporters were present in the south city centre from 5am on Wednesday, trying to find ways of getting into the Dail.
Gardai said their intention was to force their way in to grab international headlines and gain maximum notoriety.
But their attempts failed and gardai arrested three people after violent clashes throughout the day.
While gardai from the Pearse Street District, which covers the Dail, were ready for disruptive protests, this was not, apparently, expected north of the river in the Store Street District, which is where the traffic disruption took place during rush hour.
The blocking of O'Connell Street at Bachelors Quay took an hour and 45 minutes to break up as there were not sufficient numbers of gardai available to deal with the protesters. Tens of thousands of people were held up, with buses and cars stranded.
Gardai now expect the dissidents will attempt further disruptive activity on next Budget Day, October 15.
The Irish Republican Voice was formed earlier this year by associates of Ryan, who was shot dead near his home in Balgriffin, north Dublin, last September. Four of his close associates were shot and injured in the months after his murder.
Gardai believe a group terming itself the 'New Real IRA' was responsible. The dissident republican elements are deeply split.