Wednesday 13 December 2017

Armed gardai thwart dissident extortionists

Target shown funeral photo as warning

Tom Brady Security Editor

A terrified victim was shown a photograph of a funeral by the Continuity IRA (CIRA) and warned he would be shot dead unless he handed over €50,000.

Last night, 10 men were in garda custody after armed Special Branch officers foiled an extortion attempt by the renegade republicans.

Gardai believe the incident is part of an extortion campaign by dissidents.

Suspected CIRA members have been targeting the business community, particularly the owners of pubs and clubs where they are trying to set up protection rackets.

The dissidents have also tried to extort money from drug traffickers operating in their area, under the guise of cracking down on drug dealing.

The latest incident took place in Balbriggan in north Co Dublin on Thursday night when the CIRA gang initially targeted the wrong house shortly before 10pm.

The group then arrived at the home of a man they had selected as a potential victim.

Wearing balaclavas and scarves over their faces, three or four of the group entered the house while the rest remained outside.

They told their target that he would be shot if he did not meet their demand for €50,000 in cash.

He was then shown the photograph of the republican funeral as a chilling warning.

Another local man was also threatened by the gang, and told that he had to pay money to them.

Passersby, meanwhile, had noticed the masked gang arriving in the area in two cars and alerted the gardai.

Armed Special Branch units raced to the area and rescued the householder.

In follow-up inquiries gardai detained 10 suspects, ranging in age from their mid-20s to their 40s.

The suspects are from Belcamp in Coolock, Ballyfermot, Blanchardstown, Santry and Ballymun.

The alleged leader of the gang is a well-known dissident republican and has previously served a jail sentence, imposed by the Special Criminal Court in Dublin, for a terrorist offence. He was described by a garda witness during his trial as one of the leaders of a dissident faction in the capital.

The CIRA group involved in the Balbriggan incident were believed to be linked to a gang led by Liam Kenny, who was shot dead at his home at Shancastle Avenue, Clondalkin, in June, after he had celebrated his 53rd birthday.

Kenny was regarded by gardai as a significant member of the CIRA and had clashed with drug traffickers operating in the Clondalkin area.

Irish Independent

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