Gardai warned on personal safety after RIRA spying op

Conor Feehan

DETECTIVES have been warned to take extra precautions about their personal safety in the wake of the Real IRA's secret surveillance of their HQ.

A man in his 40s is still being questioned today after it was discovered that a terrorist team in a room in the Harcourt Hotel across the road had been spying on detectives entering and leaving the garda nerve centre.

A camera and other spy equipment was seized in a raid on the room, ending the spying operation that is believed to have been set up to gather information about senior detectives and members of Special Branch, who could later be subject to intimidation.


Gardai believe dissidents linked to murdered Real IRA boss Alan Ryan were gathering details of garda movements, and the registration plates and descriptions of their cars.

That information would help dissidents keep watch on anti-terrorist officers as they travelled to and from their homes.

Gardai became suspicious when they noticed a Ryan associate in the area.

They started to spy on the spies and finally moved in on Wednesday evening, arresting the 41-year-old dissident and a 32-year-old man from Cabra.

The second suspect was released without charge last night.

Gardai working at the HQ today said security surrounding the counter-surveillance operation was so tight that they only learned of it when they saw a copy of a press release from their colleagues in the Phoenix Park.

When officers raided the bedroom, they seized a digital camera, which was examined yesterday and found to contain photographs of several gardai as they walked in and out of the Harcourt Square complex.

Gardai also found a product that could be used by a photographer to blacken his face before leaning out of the hotel bedroom window.


The main suspect asked hotel staff for a room looking out on to the garda complex, which houses the Special Branch, the National Bureau of Criminal Investigation, the National Fraud Bureau and the Criminal Assets Bureau.

The suspect was being held last night at Irishtown garda station under section 30 of the Offences Against the State Act, which allows gardai to hold him without charge for up to three days.

He is also being questioned about alleged membership of an unlawful organisation and providing assistance to an unlawful organisation.