Provos on the rise while gardai struggle to hold Thin Blue Line
Senior officers fear that cutbacks will reduce the force's ability to counter a fresh wave of terror, says Jim Cusack
Speaking at a Fianna Fail-organised meeting on crime in Dundrum in south Dublin last Wednesday night, the State's former most senior operational Special Branch officer, Peter Maguire, warned that the closure of garda stations across the country and the withdrawal of community gardai are opening the way to the re-emergence of republican terrorism.
Former chief superintendent Maguire spent almost his entire career fighting the IRA, arresting most of its senior members and putting them in jail. After the Provisional IRA ceasefire he and his officers clamped down on the "dissidents" who were resuming the violence and carried out the Omagh bombing killing 31 people including near-term twins in August 1998. Before that bomb slipped through the net, Maguire's officers thwarted a series of major bomb attacks including an attempt to bomb the Grand National at Aintree some months earlier. The Special Branch mopped up the dissidents and imprisoned more than 60 of them during his service. As detective superintendent in charge of these operations, Maguire was held in esteem by his colleagues for his leadership. After promotion to chief superintendent and transfer to Santry garda station he completed his law studies and was called to the bar. He now works as a barrister since his retirement seven years ago.
Speaking at the public meeting at the Goat pub last Wednesday evening, Mr Maguire said the growth of the Provisional IRA had begun in rural Ireland where there was generational support for violent republicanism.