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Wednesday 21 February 2018

Man arrested in Scotland as police probe murder

Michael McHugh, Steven McCaffery and David Young

A man arrested by police investigating the murder of Constable Ronan Kerr was last night brought back to Northern Ireland from Scotland.

The development came as they made one of the most significant arms discoveries for years in the North.

Kalashnikov rifles, rocket launcher components and possibly Semtex explosive were discovered in east Tyrone, police said.

The arrest of a 26-year-old man in Scotland yesterday came as Mr Kerr's funeral heard a plea for an end to violence from Ireland's most senior Catholic churchman, Cardinal Sean Brady, and as huge crowds rallied in Belfast demanding peace.

The killing of the 25-year-old has been blamed on dissident republicans opposed to the peace process and is believed to be aimed at deterring Catholics from joining the police.

Police Service of Northern Ireland assistant chief constable Drew Harris said: "Detectives who are investigating Ronan's murder have made a significant discovery of arms and munitions -- one of the most significant in recent years."

The seizure was made in a garage on the Mountjoy Road, Coalisland.

The haul found in stolen vehicles included four rifles, ammunition, timer power units, detonators, incendiary bombs, components for rocket launchers and other explosive devices.

Constable Harris said the arms discovery would "form lines of inquiry into Ronan's murder and into dissident activity generally".

He added that the man arrested in Dunbartonshire, Scotland, in connection with the find of weapons "is being brought back to Northern Ireland for questioning".

Last night, police were searching a house in Miller Road where the suspect is believed to have lived. He was taken to the high security prison in Glasgow, until he was transferred to Northern Ireland.

Meanwhile, the Association of Garda Superintendents expressed its condolences to the family of Mr Kerr and his colleagues at its annual conference in Dublin yesterday.

President Jim Smith said gardai would continue to target the dissidents. He also stressed that security plans were being drawn up for the visits of Queen Elizabeth and US President Barack Obama next month.

Irish Independent

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