Tuesday 12 December 2017

Gardai will not allow IRA display at funeral of suspect

Tom Brady Security Editor

GARDA Commissioner Martin Callinan has warned that his force will not allow a paramilitary display at the funeral of Omagh bomb suspect Seamus McKenna.

Mr McKenna died on Sunday after falling from scaffolding while carrying out repairs on a school outside Dundalk last Wednesday. He sustained serious head injuries and was transferred from Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Drogheda to Beaumont where he was placed on life support.

Gardai are concerned that attempts will be made by dissident republican groups to stage a paramilitary display at his funeral in Ravensdale, Dundalk, tomorrow. His remains were removed last night from his son's home to a funeral home in his native Silverbridge, Co Armagh.

Police on both sides of the Border suspect that Mr McKenna was linked by a mobile phone to the Omagh atrocity, which killed 29 people in August 1998. But he was never charged in connection with the bombing.

Mr McKenna was also one of five people sued in a civil compensation case by the families of the Omagh victims. But he was cleared by the judge. The families won their case against the other four defendants, including the founder member of the Real IRA, Michael McKevitt.

At a garda reserve graduation ceremony in Templemore, Co Tipperary, Mr Callinan firmly laid down a marker for the dissidents: "There is one army in this country and there is one policing service. We will ensure that position remains.

"We do not like being present in any large numbers at a particularly sensitive time when people are burying their loved ones. But we will not allow any display of paramilitarism," he said.

Commenting on the recent find of 15kg of Semtex explosive, guns, ammunition, pipe bombs and electronic equipment in Cloghran, at the back of Dublin Airport, he said the find was particularly significant and a lot of analysis and inquiries were currently under way in relation to it.

Mr Callinan said the gardai were concerned about the New IRA alliance, which was formed a year ago from a merger of existing groups, including the Real IRA, and added: "We are going to do all that we can to put them out of business as soon as we can".

Irish Independent

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