A MAJOR security alert was put in place in all stations across a garda division after officers received intelligence that a notorious dissident criminal was planning to steal garda uniforms.
The security threat involved all 13 garda stations in the Louth garda division which includes large stations such as Drogheda, Dundalk and Ardee.
Security and alarm codes were changed in the stations after officers received "highly sensitive intelligence" from the force's secretive crime and security section.
The intelligence also led to an increase in armed and unarmed garda patrols throughout Louth.
A senior source explained: "No particular station was identified so that is why the security measures were taken in all the stations.
"The theft of garda uniforms is a very serious matter especially if the uniforms are then to be used by dissident Republicans."
The Herald can reveal that the criminal who was identified as being behind the uniform plot is a notorious 31-year-old criminal who was very friendly with Declan 'Fat Deccy' Smith – the Belfast man who was shot in the face outside a north Dublin crèche last Friday.
The suspect was previously convicted of a dissident related murder in the North but the conviction was later quashed and a retrial collapsed when a witness refused to give evidence, telling a judge: "I have been threatened that if I give evidence I will be shot dead."
Gardai have been monitoring the notorious criminal's movements and he has been spending his time living in Co Monaghan and Co Louth.
Sources say that he has been involved in a number of extortion rackets against business owners since his release.
When serving a jail term here in Ireland's highest security prison, the ruthless criminal left the Continuity IRA and joined the INLA.
Garda uniforms are of huge value to dissident Republicans and criminal gangs and in 2010 it was reported that gangs were offering €30,000 for official uniforms which could then be used in robberies and assassination attempts.