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Criminal who caused split in Continuity IRA

THIS is the criminal who has reportedly split the renegade Continuity IRA.

Barry O'Brien -- who had two of his properties seized by the Criminal Assets Bureau (CAB) as proceeds of crime -- has caused uproar among the dissident Republicans in Portlaoise Prison.

The 38-year-old has now been convicted of IRA membership, after attempting -- and failing -- to go on hunger strike to avoid a previous court hearing.

A source told the Herald: "This man is a prime example of dissident Republicanism -- a thug involved in ordinary crime and hiding behind a flag.

"He has split the CIRA leadership. A small few are standing by him but others hate him, and other dissident groups are out to get him.

"He attempted a hunger strike but was back on food within a few days."

O'Brien is now on 23-hour lock-up at Portlaoise Prison after his criminal activities caused uproar among other dissidents in the jail.

He was convicted last Friday of IRA membership.


O'Brien, from Mountainview Court, Stonetown, Dundalk was moved to an isolation unit after dissident groups joined forces to have him removed from the Republican wing of the prison.

O'Brien had been flexing his muscles since he arrived in Portlaoise and had been intimidating and "causing trouble" among prisoners, sources told the Herald.

In a show of unity, prisoners from the Real IRA, Oglaigh na hEireann and the INLA joined forces to have O'Brien dumped from the Republican wing.

O'Brien was associated with a breakaway faction of CIRA.

His criminal activities emerged last year when the High Court appointed the legal officer of CAB as receiver over two properties owned by O'Brien, ruling they were acquired through the proceeds of crime.

Following this O'Brien attempted to go on hunger strike -- but would only last a few days at a time.

A spokesperson for the Irish Prison Service told the Herald that O'Brien is no longer on hunger strike.

"He was never in any medical danger at any stage."

At his trial for IRA membership garda witnesses told the court they were "satisfied" O'Brien's fingerprints were found on items seized from a car in Dublin in 2003, in which firearms were recovered.