10 held in raid on suspected dissident IRA training camp

 

Gardaí arrested 10 men and seized arms and ammunition yesterday in what they believe was a suspected Continuity IRA training camp in north Co Waterford.

Officers from the Garda's anti-terrorist Special Detective Unit and the National Surveillance Unit, and gardaí from the Kilkenny, Waterford division, made the arrests following an afternoon search of the forest area six miles south of Clonmel.

The 10 men, ranging in ages from their late-teens to their late-40s, are being detained under Section 30 of the Offences Against the State Act, which allows them to be held for up to 72 hours.

They are being questioned at Garda stations in Waterford, Tramore and Clonmel.

All are believed to be from the Limerick, Wexford and Waterford areas and suspected to be aligned to the dissident republican group, the Continuity IRA, gardaí said.

The arrests were made at a clearing in the forest at Knocknaree between Ballymacarbry and Carrick-on-Suir near the Comeragh Mountains.

A makeshift firing range was discovered along with two rifles, two shotguns, some ammunition and what gardaí described as "other paramilitary paraphernalia".

A 10-year-old boy, understood to be the son of one of the men, was also at the scene but was not arrested.

He returned to his home last night.

Gardaí said the arrested men appeared to be engaged in a training camp.

The scene has been preserved for forensic examination and searches are to resume there, and at neighbouring locations, at first light.

The find was made as part of an ongoing Garda operation in counties Waterford and Tipperary.

The Continuity IRA - along with the "Real IRA" - remains opposed to the peace process and the Belfast Agreement which they claim cements partition.

Recent attempted bombings by both groups have been thwarted by the security forces.

Last June, gardaí believed they foiled a Continuity IRA attack when they seized a van containing an explosive mix near Hackballscross, Co Louth.

The group has also been linked to the August 1998 Omagh bombing, which claimed 29 lives, although it is more commonly associated with the "Real IRA".

There have been claims that the bombing was a joint-operation between the two dissident groups.

The Continuity IRA is believed to draw much of its support from the Republic.