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Saturday 17 March 2018

Dissident deal linked to Kildare arms haul

Dublin gang is suspected to have swapped drugs for RPGs in trade-off with republicans, writes Jim Cusack

DISSIDENT republicans are believed to have supplied the south inner Dublin gang with the two RPG7 rockets discovered in an arms and drugs hide in Co Kildare last week.

The dissidents, who are heavily involved in crime themselves, are believed to have traded the rockets for drugs to be sold in the North at least three or four years ago. Fortunately the criminal gang involved in the Crumlin-Drimnagh feud never learned how to use them.

They were found last Wednesday along with an AK47 assault rifle, ammunition and cocaine with a street value of nearly €700,000 buried under a shed near Straffan Golf Course.

Some years ago, gardai in Dublin learnt that members of the gang, led by Freddie Thompson, were drinking and taking drugs in a house in the Drimnagh area and were taking out and showing off newly acquired weapons, including the brand new Glock pistols, which are common now among all Irish gangs. One then produced a machine pistol of the same type used by the Army's Ranger wing and the Garda's Emergency Response Unit.

Another left the house and came a short time later with one of the rocket-propelled grenades, brand new and unused. It is the same RPG7 that was only ever used in Ireland by republican and loyalist paramilitaries in the North.

The RPG is extraordinarily dangerous in urban settings. The Provisional IRA stopped using them in cities in the mid-1980s in Belfast after one overshot its target of a police Land Rover and hit the wall of a classroom in the Edmund Rice Primary School in the Whiterock area of west Belfast. On impact the rockets created a sheet of molten metal travelling at supersonic speed.

Fortunately the missile exploded above head-height, otherwise many of the children could have been literally cut in two.

About four years ago the Crumlin-Drimnagh feud had reached its worst levels and gardai believe that the Thompson gang, which had wide links in the criminal and dissident republican world, acquired the missiles and launchers with the idea of using them to attack an opponent's house or to fire one into a pub frequented by the other side. The opportunity never presented itself and the gang was never trained to use them, as far as gardai know.

Limerick gangs also tried to acquire the weapons in 2007 when three members of the Dundon gang were caught in a sting operation involving gardai and UK police in Cork.

When gardai first heard that missile launchers had been acquired by the gang in Dublin, a major series of searches was carried out, focusing on the Crumlin-Drimnagh area.

Sunday Independent

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