RIRA leader personally planned MI5 bomb attack
A SEASONED terrorist, who served a jail sentence here for firearms offences, is believed to be the mastermind behind the car bomb blast outside the Northern Ireland headquarters of British intelligence service, MI5.
The Louth man, who is currently the leader of the most active faction of the dissident Real IRA, is trying to create a twin campaign of gun and bomb strikes against security targets, combined with street disorder in Belfast and other main urban centres.
The blast, at the MI5 base at the British Army's Palace barracks in Holywood, Co Down, will feature at the top of the agenda for the hastily convened security summit between Justice Minister Dermot Ahern and his new Northern counterpart, David Ford.
The summit has now been fixed for Belfast on Friday morning and it will also be attended by Garda Commissioner Fachtna Murphy and PSNI chief constable Matt Baggott.
The recent spate of terrorist incidents, including yesterday's security alert outside the police station in the south Armagh village of Newtownhamilton, will also be under review as the two police chiefs examine their strategies to tackle the upsurge in dissident violence.
The alert, caused by a car that had been abandoned at Shambles Lane around 3am, led to the evacuation of residents from about 60 houses.
Meanwhile, it was learned last night that the Holywood bomb contained between 40 and 50 pounds of explosive.
The bomb was packed into a taxi, which had been hijacked about seven miles away in the Ligoniel area of north Belfast on Sunday night. The driver was ordered to drive the car to the barracks and park it there.
He was warned that his family were being held hostage and that he would not see them again unless he carried out the gang's instructions.
Responsibility for the incident was claimed by the Real IRA faction, which has a stronghold in the south Armagh-north Louth area and has close links to another faction in Derry.
The leader of the Derry group has recently fallen out with the Border units and this has created a new split in the renegade republican outfit. But senior police officers expert that the rift will be sorted out and the alliance will be reformed.