Massive haul of guns and explosives found stashed near border
Published 02/12/2015 | 02:30
Gardaí have recovered a terrorist arsenal that is believed to have been stolen several years ago from the Provisional IRA.
The haul, which was under the control of the Provisionals until they ended their terrorist campaign, was found hidden near the Border after a week-long series of searches.
The haul included up to eight AK-47 assault rifles, at least three mortars, component parts of improvised explosive devices, detonators, detonating cord and what was described as a significant quantity of ammunition.
Officers discovered the arsenal after an extensive search of a remote wooded area, outside Scotstown, Co Monaghan, over the past few days.
It had been concealed in a number of hides, with some of the haul buried underground.
Gardaí are satisfied that the haul was not currently in the possession of any particular dissident republican organisation.
But there are concerns that the weapons and bomb parts could have been used to cause death and destruction if they had been sold on to renegade factions, such as the Real IRA or OnH (Óglaigh na hÉireann).
Anti-terrorist officers are now trying to establish the identity of the 'quartermaster' who was in charge of the arsenal during the Provisional war of terror in Northern Ireland.
The massive search operation was spearheaded by members of the Garda Special Branch and the Emergency Response Unit, but also included members of the Garda dog unit and the divisional search team in Cavan-Monaghan.
An army bomb disposal team assisted with the search in the Scotstown area following a request from An Garda Síochána.
Its Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) Team arrived on scene at 2.45pm last Thursday, where they remained until Monday afternoon.
"All items discovered were made safe and handed over to An Garda Síochána to assist them with their investigation," a spokesman added.
A review of the operation was being carried out last night by senior garda officers. The outcome is likely to determine how long the searches should last in the area.
The finds follow extensive intelligence gathering by detectives targeting dissident activity along the Border.
This also included surveillance in counties Monaghan and Cavan.
The discovery of the arsenal is regarded as a significant garda strike against renegade terror chiefs, who could have been planning to purchase the weapons for use in a fresh spate of attacks across the Border in the run-up to Christmas.