Hamas-style rockets being developed by dissidents
Dissident republicans are developing deadly rockets, similar to those fired by the military arm of Hamas into southern Israel, gardaí have revealed.
A raid by Garda anti-terrorist units resulted in the seizure of a prototype model of the Kassam rocket, capable of being fired over a distance of six kilometres.
The seizure is regarded by senior garda officers as evidence of the increasing sophistication of dissident "engineers" as they develop the technology of their terrorist organisations. After the weapons trawl was revealed, Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams said he was willing to enter talks with dissident groups in an attempt to bring an end to their activities.
Mr Adams said his previous efforts to reach out to these groups failed and insisted there was no popular support for their actions. "I'm more than happy for Sinn Féin or anyone else to facilitate and support and to help those people who want to be involved in genuine republican politics," he added.
Assistant Garda Commissioner John O'Mahony, who is in charge of the force's crime and security branch, warned yesterday of the growing capabilities of the dissidents to launch explosive and gun attacks in Northern Ireland, with logistical support from their cells operating in the Republic.
He said this view was backed up by the finds made by gardaí over the past couple of years when they uncovered a huge arsenal of weaponry and explosives from the Real IRA, the Oglaigh na hÉireann and the Continuity IRA.
A sample of the finds during 2014 and 2015 was put on display at Garda headquarters in the Phoenix Park.
Appealing to the public to be vigilant and report any suspicious activity, Mr O'Mahony said that gardaí were increasingly concerned that the dissidents might attempt to step up their campaign of violence to coincide with the 1916 commemoration events.
Garda technical experts said this was the first time they had come across the self-propelled Kassam rocket prototype in a dissident "factory". Four rockets were seized in total.
Other previously unknown finds included a new type of detonator and detonating cord and a trigger circuit mechanism involving mobile phones, which could be used to set off bombs remotely rather than relying on wires attached to the devices.
Also on display were an adapted beer keg, which had been filled with 50kg of homemade explosives, along with high-powered military assault rifles.