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108 arrested as gardai vow to wipe out RIRA

GARDAI have arrested 108 dissident Republicans in the past two years and charged 43.

The figures were released by Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan, who has pledged to put the Real IRA and other dissidents "out of business".

His comments, made at the Garda Representative Association conference in Westport, Co Mayo, came four days after over 100 gardai were involved in a massive search operation to target the activities of a Real IRA gang in Dublin.

The group has claimed to be behind at least two murders in the past year and has carried out a number of assassination attempts against established Dublin drug gangs.

Commissioner Martin Callinan said that the violent group has been hitting the headlines in recent weeks and will continue to be targeted by gardai.

"I think people are aware of what is being reported of in the media and certainly events in more recent times have amplified that point," he said.

"For our part we will continue to put these people out of business whether they're involved in criminal or subversive activity."

Over the past 18 months the gardai have scored major victories against dissident republicans.

"Traditionally on our side of the border these people survive by providing logistical support to dissident groupings and to that end we have over the last 18 months to two years arrested over 108 of these people, these so called dissidents, and we have 43 people in front of the Special Criminal Court charged with terrorist related offences," the commissioner added.

The RIRA unit, regarded as Dublin's most dangerous dissident grouping, has claimed responsibility for the gangland murders of low-level drug dealer Sean Winters and Collie Owens in Finglas last summer.

The two leading RIRA men were members of the Continuity IRA but now operate under the umbrella of the Real IRA. They have claimed responsibility for two murders in the capital this year and are understood to be behind a number of high-profile assassination attempts.


The group has claimed responsibility for the murder of Colm 'Collie' Owens (34) who was shot up to 10 times as he worked at an animal feed store in Finglas in July.

The RIRA gang also claimed to be responsible for the murder of low-level drug dealer Sean Winters (42) who was shot dead by masked assassins outside his apartment in Portmarnock in September.

One of the national leaders of the Real IRA is currently living in Tallaght, and the two leading RIRA men are believed to be operating under his command.