Saturday 16 December 2017

New terrorism offences created to tackle dissident republicans

Minister for Justice and Equality Frances Fitzgerald
Minister for Justice and Equality Frances Fitzgerald

Tom Brady, Security Editor

Three new terrorism offences are being created as part of the plan to combat the renegades.

Details of the new laws, which were first revealed in the Irish Independent last month, were published this afternoon by Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald.

The move represents the most significant crackdown on home-grown terrorism by the government since the highly successful package of measures introduced in the wake of the Omagh bomb atrocity, which killed 29 people in August 1998.

That legislation led to the leader of the group responsible for the Omagh blast, Michael McKevitt being jailed for 20 years for the new offence of directing a terrorist organisation.

Mrs Fitzgerald has now secured Government approval to create three further offences, which will each carry a maximum sentence, if convicted on indictment, of ten years in jail and a substantial fine.

The proposed new offences are public provocation to commit a terrorist offence, recruitment for terrorism and training for terrorism.

The provocation offence will be committed by anybody, who distributes or communicates a message to the public, with the intention of encouraging, directly or indirectly, a terrorist activity.

This would apply to dissident leaders, who use public orations or interviews, to incite others to break the law on behalf of groups like the New IRA Alliance, which incorporates the Real IRA; the Continuity IRA and OnH.

The second measure focuses on recruiting, or attempting to recruit, another to take part in terrorist activity or other offences contained in the post-Omagh Offences Against the State (Amendment) Act, 1998.

The third offence involves providing instruction or training in the skills of making or using firearms or explosives, nuclear material, biological, chemical or prohibited weapons, knowing that the skills are intended to be used for the purpose of terrorist activity.

It also covers training in techniques or methods for terrorist use.

Already this year, gardai seized an estimated €10m in partially forged banknotes in April, detected a large home-made bomb in Co Louth, which was destined for use against a security target in Northern Ireland, in May, and disrupted a Real IRA gun attack in Tallaght, Co Dublin, in June.

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