Terrorist arsenal found near Border was 'to be used to exploit Brexit problems'
Senior Garda officers have described the seizure of a terrorist arsenal near the Border as a potential life-saving measure in the run up to Brexit- related problems in the region.
They said the cache of Semtex plastic explosives and assault weapons was well hidden but easily accessible.
"In the wrong hands, this haul could have been used to inflict death and destruction," an officer said last night.
The find was made in a wooded area, close to two similar hides uncovered in searches last month and about 2km from Omeath, Co Louth.
The latest cache contained a quarter kilo of Semtex and a detonator, two rifles including a Steyr assault weapon and around 300 rounds of assorted ammunition, hidden in lunch boxes.
The haul was concealed in Wavin piping and buried underground. The find was made during a search operation on Thursday in an area of the wood, about 2km from the Omeath to Flagstaff road.
A bomb disposal team was called in to deal with the Semtex and detonator and some of the material was destroyed in a controlled explosion on Thursday night.
The search operation involved officers from the Louth Garda division, Special Branch and members of the Emergency Response Unit and Armed Support Unit, attached to the Special Tactics and Operations Command.
The operation was a follow- up to a big search of the area on February 1 when gardaí seized approximately 1,000 rounds of ammunition for use in small arms and semi- automatic rifles, concealed in lunch boxes stashed into a barrel, which had been buried.
Officers are satisfied the arsenal belonged to a dissident group, probably OnH, rather than the current dominant republican faction, New IRA, or dating back to the Provisional IRA, which imported tonnes of Semtex into the country from Libya in the mid-1980s.
Garda intelligence had indicated a terror campaign was likely to be reignited by dissidents in the first quarter of the year with terrorists expected to exploit any Border problems created by Brexit.