Major blow to 'new IRA' as four held in dawn raid swoop on main targets
Gardai have struck a major blow against the activities of the so-called New IRA in the capital after armed officers swooped on four suspects in a dawn raid in Tallaght.
The four Dublin men, who are aged between 28 and 47, were still being questioned at different city stations last night after armed members of the Special Detective Unit (SDU) made the arrests at a house at around 6am yesterday.
Sources say the raided property is linked to a 42-year-old Tallaght man who has been one of the main targets for the SDU for the past seven years.
During that time he has twice been cleared of IRA membership charges by the non-jury Special Criminal Court after being arrested in previous busts by armed gardai.
The suspected IRA boss was previously arrested in the company of dissident Republican Michael Barr, who was shot dead in the ongoing Hutch-Kinahan feud last year.
Barr (36) was murdered in The Sunset House pub in Dublin's north inner city on April 25.
Sources say that while there is no information that the arrested 42-year-old man has any involvement in the gangland feud that cost his associate his life, he has been suspected of being a main player in dissident republicanism ever since the murder of Real IRA chief Alan Ryan in September 2012.
Meanwhile, two of the suspects arrested in yesterday's raid are currently on bail in relation to separate high-profile alleged offences linked to dissident republicanism.
One of those is a 28-year-old taxi driver from Dublin's north inner city who is facing IRA membership charges after being arrested in June.
The suspect, from Hardwicke Street in the capital's north inner city, was arrested after armed officers seized 400 grams of TNT in Dublin city centre.
But he was not charged in relation to the explosives.
A 29-year-old Finglas man also arrested in yesterday's raid is wanted by authorities in Northern Ireland in relation to an alleged attempted attack on PSNI officers.
He was granted bail after spending a number of weeks in custody earlier this year.
A fourth suspect is a Cabra man (47) whose older brother is considered one of the capital's most senior dissident republicans.
The 47-year-old previously survived a brutal punishment shooting in north Dublin and is suspected of associating with criminal elements.
Sources say that the Cabra man is "down on his luck" and under severe financial pressure.
Yesterday's raid is considered to be one of the most significant carried out by gardai against dissident republicans this year.
"This was a raid arising from a very lengthy surveillance operation," a source said last night.
"While no guns or bombs were seized, it was a very important arrest operation."
The raid came only weeks after Assistant Commissioner Michael O'Sullivan warned that the New IRA posed the biggest terrorist threat from dissident republicans on these islands in two decades.
He told the Herald that the organisation was the most dangerous dissident group since the Provisional IRA.
Mr O'Sullivan, who is in charge of crime and security, said his assessment was shared by police and intelligence experts in Northern Ireland and Britain.
The 'New IRA' comprises former factions of the Real IRA, Republican Action Against Drugs and seasoned republicans who had appeared to support the peace process but have become active again.
Other members include those who had stayed away from the Real IRA, the Continuity IRA and ONH (Oglaigh na hEireann) because of infiltration by gardai.
The 'New IRA' has more than 50 activists and 200 supporters.