Suspects planned to intimidate gardaí

Fri, Sep 28, 2012, 01:00

GARDAÍ BELIEVE two suspected dissident republicans caught recording the Garda’s Dublin metropolitan headquarters using cameras set up in a room in a nearby hotel were trying to gather information to identify and then intimidate detectives.

The two men were questioned in Irishtown and Donnybrook Garda stations in the capital about membership of an illegal organisation and supporting an illegal organisation. Gardaí believe they are linked to the Real IRA, whose ranks have been bolstered of late by joining forces with other dissident factions. The men arrested were known to gardaí­ for their links to dissident terrorism and were spotted in the streets around Harcourt Square, the Garda’s Dublin metropolitan headquarters that houses units such as the Criminal Assets Bureau, Garda Bureau of Fraud Investigation and the Special Detective Unit, which investigates terrorists.

When the men were spotted on Harcourt Street on Wednesday afternoon, they were placed under surveillance and investigations quickly established they had booked into the Harcourt Hotel across Harcourt Street from Harcourt Square.

The men had taken a room under a false name and had set up a digital camera to record the Garda city headquarters across the road, including the entrance where members of the force drive their own private vehicles in and out of work. A small camera used to take photographs was also found.

When the equipment was discovered, it was taken for analysis. The men were followed around the city centre and were arrested in the Grafton Street area. The suspects, aged 41 and 31 and from west Dublin and the north inner city, were detained under section 30 of the Offences Against the State Act.

The younger man was released last night and a file is being prepared for the Director of Public Prosecutions.

Gardaí believe the cameras were most likely being used to record detectives from the Special Detective Unit whose names and faces would be known to dissident republicans.

If the number plates of privately owned cars could be matched to individual gardaí, that information could then be used to illegally determine the addresses of gardaí through their car registration details.

In the past, criminal gangs have used sources with access to information databases through public service jobs to establish addresses of people, including gardaí, they wanted to intimidate. Such information has been used in the past against gardaí, with a pipe bomb – which exploded – planted outside the family home of a garda last year and a bullet left on the car of another member some years ago as a threat by an organised crime gang.

Fianna Fáil justice spokesman Niall Collins described the discovery of a suspected spying operation as a “sinister development”.

“This is a very disturbing development as gardaí­ continue a major operation into organised crime in Dublin,” he said, adding “strong and united political leadership” was required to tackle criminal gangs.