Red faces after gardai 'recycle' Semtex boxes
Explosives containers displayed at Garda HQ press conference were first shown two years ago
Published 10/01/2016 | 02:30
The "sophisticated" display of alleged dissident republican arms put on display last week by Garda management included explosives containers that had previously been put on show two years ago.
The Garda Press Office has admitted that four red metal tins inscribed 'Semtex-H' were put on show at a similar press event to display so-called dissident republican weaponry in July 2013.
Garda management last week said they used the same tins for "health and safety" and "visual indication" reasons and admitted they had been put on display before.
In a statement, the Garda Press Office said: "As per standard procedure, these boxes were used at a public display in 2013 to provide a visual indication of explosives seized and were used again this week to provide a visual indication of explosives seized during 2014 and 2015, which included Semtex."
The press event at Garda Headquarters last Wednesday was supposed to reveal the weaponry that had been seized by the Garda Special Branch in raids along the Border in recent months. Weapons, including an unknown number of firearms and old bomb-making equipment, were seized, it is understood.
In fact, the main firearm put on display last week was a Soviet-manufactured Dragunov rifle that is probably 40 to 50 years old.
The gardai also put on display two home-made rockets, which they said were self-propelling missiles.
No such weapon has previously been used by the IRA or any other group and security sources last week said they believed these "weapons" were probably unusable.
It is not known for sure when the four red Semtex tins were actually seized by gardai but sources say that they were found well before the 2013 press display event. It is believed that they were discovered when gardai uncovered part of a Provisional IRA arms dump after the 2006 IRA declaration that it had 'decommissioned' all its weapons. This was a lie.
A large amount of Semtex was exported to South American drugs cartels and was said to have netted the IRA some US$30m (€27.5m), along with the provision of bomb-making training.
Sources have told the Sunday Independent there are probably at least two major IRA arms dumps still in existence, each containing up to a ton of the Semtex explosive, which was given to the IRA by the late Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi in the mid-1980s. At the time, Gaddafi's regime was supplying Soviet-manufactured weapons to a variety of terrorist groups.
While it is not clear why Garda management decided to mount last week's display, security sources have told the Sunday Independent there are rising concerns about a split in the IRA in the North over aspects of the latest political agreement worked out between Sinn Fein, the DUP and the British Government.
The 'Stormont House Agreement', as it is known, has led to divisions in the 'Republican Movement' in the North over some 230 former IRA members who had believed they were to receive amnesties for past actions.
This has now been ruled out.
This group contains figures who would have been among the IRA's top planners and operators and were involved in major attacks.