Gardai uncover Real IRA weapons dump in woods
GARDAI uncovered a massive terrorist arsenal belonging to the Real IRA after pinpointing an underground hide in a wood yesterday.
Armed officers made the find during a series of searches in Co Louth and Co Meath as part of Operation Designer, which has been targeting dissident republican activities on both sides of the Border for the past year.
The arsenal was discovered in a carefully concealed hide in Barmeath Wood, outside Dunleer, Co Louth, after a widespread search involving local gardai, the Special Branch, Emergency Response Unit and National Surveillance Unit.
The haul included three kilos of TNT explosive, a light, general purpose machine gun and tripod; a rocket launcher, a large quantity of ammunition, more than a dozen detonators that had been fully assembled, a couple of timer power units and parts for other units, a large amount of bomb components, a pipe bomb and a sawn-off, double barrelled shotgun.
Special clothing thought to have been worn by terrorists to foil forensic examination of items by police experts was also found. Some of the weaponry seized was thought to have originated in eastern Europe and was likely to have been imported by the Real IRA faction aligned to the group's former director of operations, from outside Dundalk.
The seizure was much bigger than the haul found at a bomb factory in a shed at Barntown, Co Wexford, at the weekend. It was also ready for use, indicating that it was stored in preparation for a new outburst of violence by the terrorists in Northern Ireland. It was also learned yesterday that detonators found during the Barntown search contained Semtex explosive. Forty grammes of the explosive, which was imported in huge quantities from Libya by the Provisional IRA in the mid 1980s, were seized by gardai during raids on 21 houses and premises in counties Wexford, Waterford and Louth.
A detailed examination of the suspected Real IRA bomb factory in the makeshift shed was continuing yesterday as members of the garda technical bureau combed through the find before transferring the items to their headquarters at the Phoenix Park in Dublin.
Last night Garda Commissioner Fachtna Murphy described yesterday's find as significant and added: "This represents a further step in our determined strategy to target, disrupt and detect the activities of dissident republicans."
He said the gardai were working closely with the PSNI to thwart the intent of a small group of people who wanted to inflict violence and pain on communities. "Our objective is to stop them in their tracks and secure evidence to put them before the court."
Nobody has been arrested in connection with yesterday's find, which also included a large quantity of powder intended for use either in booster tubes or in the making of ammunition.
Gardai said the arsenal appeared to have been acquired fairly recently and was more likely to have been imported by the dissidents than taken from old Provisional IRA stockpiles that had not been handed in to the authorities during the decommissioning process.
Meanwhile, cross checks will be made by the gardai with the PSNI to establish if there are similarities between any of the bomb components manufactured here and those in terrorist attacks involving improvised explosive devices in the North.
Along with the explosives, gardai also found two detonators at Barntown, components for timer power units, circuit boards and possibly parts that could have been used in the manufacture of mortars.
In another house search at Corrstown, outside Dunleer, gardai recovered a handgun and ammunition.
A total of 10 suspects, including a suspected senior figure in the Real IRA, an alleged bombmaker, a 71-year-old veteran republican and a woman were detained during the weekend operation.