Gardai confident of arresting dissidents behind gun salute
GARDAI say they are confident they will arrest the dissident republicans who fired a volley of shots over the coffin of Real IRA terror boss Alan Ryan at the weekend.
Officers believe they know the identity of most of those who took part in the display outside Ryan's home in Donaghmede on the northside of Dublin.
Ryan was shot dead in nearby Clongriffin a week ago and gardai believe an organised crime gang ordered the hit on the 32-year-old, who controlled a faction of the Real IRA, after a dispute with the organisation's Dublin "commander".
A large number of dissident republican supporters crossed the Border, particularly from Derry and Belfast, for the funeral. Armed members of the Special Branch noted the names of those who arrived at the Ryan home for the removal of the body to the Church of the Holy Trinity in Donaghmede on Saturday morning, before burial took place at Fingal cemetery.
Undercover officers and garda 'spotters' also mingled with the crowd at the funeral and kept known activists under surveillance.
After the shooting incident, senior gardai decided not to intervene on the spot as a move then would have provoked a major public order clash.
They decided, instead, to keep those responsible under surveillance and act later.
An investigation headquarters has been set up at Clontarf garda station and officers are expected to liaise with the PSNI before deciding on early morning arrests.
Several men dressed in military-style uniforms fired a volley of three shots into the air as the casket containing Ryan's body was removed from the family home.
Meanwhile, Justice Minister Alan Shatter has described the paramilitary activity at the funeral as "reprehensible".
But the decision of gardai not to intervene and stop members of the Real IRA from saluting the dead man was sharply criticised yesterday. Fianna Fail justice spokesman Niall Collins said a "full scale paramilitary-style funeral" had occurred in broad daylight in the middle of Dublin, which had nothing to do with republicanism.
"People are shocked and appalled by what happened and I am asking the Taoiseach and the justice minister to address this urgently," he said.
"This sort of activity is not, and never has been, what republicanism is all about. It is criminality plain and simple. Every effort must be made to show these thugs that their criminal behaviour and their fear tactics will not be tolerated."
Sinn Fein also criticised the display.
But Mr Shatter said gardai had "difficulties" addressing the salute by Real IRA members.
"I recognise fully the immediate difficulties which face An Garda Siochana when people take advantage of a funeral to behave in this fashion, but the Garda Commissioner has assured me that they are pursuing rigorously any breaches of the law which took place," he said in a statement.
"I regard as reprehensible and absolutely unacceptable some of the events which surrounded the funeral in Dublin yesterday.
"Paramilitary trappings should not blind people to the fact that what is at issue is criminal terrorism carried on by people who, for their own reasons, want to drag the people of this island back to a dark past."
He added that gardai and the PSNI would take "every action" to deal with dissidents engaging in terrorism or organised crime.