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Celtic star's father held in dawn raids


John Stokes pictured with wife Joan outside their pub the Players Lounge in Dublin. Photo: Colin O'Riordan

John Stokes pictured with wife Joan outside their pub the Players Lounge in Dublin. Photo: Colin O'Riordan


Three people have been arrested after ammunition was seized in a pub ordered to remove a 40ft banner barring the Queen during her state visit to Ireland.

A source confirmed that pub owner John Stokes - father of Celtic player Anthony Stokes - is among those arrested on suspicion of possessing firearms.

Last month, a judge ordered Mr Stokes to remove his controversial sign from outside the Players Lounge in the north Dublin suburb of Fairview, and not to erect another one.

Garda officers raided the pub at around 10am as part of an operation targeting dissident republican and organised criminal activity in the Irish capital.

A handful of bullets found in a shed at the back of the pub have been taken away for ballistic tests and it understood Mr Stokes was arrested at the scene.

A number of private houses were also searched in the Donaghmede area in a crackdown involving more than 100 officers, including the force's special detective unit.

Another two people - a man and a woman - were also arrested during the operation and all three are being detained under Section 30 of the Offences Against the State Act.

They are being questioned at Store Street, Bridewell and Whitehall Garda stations.

It is understood the raids are linked to an investigation into a long-running turf war between the so-called Real IRA and drugs gangs.

The bitter rivals are battling for supremacy in a protection racket targeting pubs and clubs.

Last July, three men, including a doorman and two customers, were gunned down outside the Players Lounge.

Cocaine with a street value of about €500 was also recovered during searches this morning.

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The two men arrested, aged 54 and 46, and the woman, aged 55, can be held for up to three days.

Mr Stokes, 54, said last month that he reluctantly agreed to take down the massive anti-Queen banner after a senior garda threatened to object to his application for late licences.

The publican said the livelihoods of his 12 staff members would be at risk if he did not get the licence extensions.

But outside Dublin District Court he vowed to continue his protest against the Queen.

Last night, it was confirmed that the state visit to Ireland will take in a tour of several historically significant sites including Croke Park - the scene of a massacre by British troops - and Dublin's Garden of Remembrance - which honours all those who fought for Irish freedom.

The trip, from May 17 to 20, will be the first by a British sovereign to the Republic.

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