Gardaí end Co Louth search targeting dissident activity

Move comes after discovery of mortar tube, ammunition linked to dissident republicans

A handout photograph of the garda operation, which  recovered a  substantial quantity of ammunition of varied calibre, along with a mortar tube Photograph: An Garda Síochána/PA Wire

A handout photograph of the garda operation, which recovered a substantial quantity of ammunition of varied calibre, along with a mortar tube Photograph: An Garda Síochána/PA Wire

 

Gardaí have ended searches in Co Louth which turned up a cache of ammunition and a mortar tube which it is suspected dissident republicans were planning to use for an attack in the North.

The operation at a location in the Omeath area on the Cooley Peninsula involved a number of specialist units and Army bomb experts.

The haul, including a very large quantity of ammunition of varying calibre, was found buried in the ground on a wooded area.

A Garda spokesman said on Saturday afternoon the search had come to an end, and that no further information is being released for “operational reasons”.

It is understood there have been no arrests in connection with the find.

Sources said it may take some time before the precise nature and quantity of what has been found is confirmed, but that the material appeared to be “in working order” and that the mortar shell and ammunition were not historical.

Gardaí believe the haul was being stored in the Republic for use in the North by dissidents whose aim it was to attack the security forces and cause disruption.

Border infrastructure concern

The find comes just two weeks after a car bomb exploded in Derry, with the New IRA dissident paramilitary group believed to be behind that crime.

While nobody was injured in the blast, members of the public walked past the hijacked car in which the bomb had been left on Bishop Street close to the old city walls and Derry’s courthouse.

Both Friday’s mortar and ammunition find and the bomb blast in Derry two weeks ago have come amid concern that any border infrastructure that could result from a hard Brexit would lead to a new wave of terror attacks by dissidents.

Senior Garda and PSNI officers have both warned that a hard border could become both a target for dissidents as well as a rallying and recruitment tool for them.

Security sources in Dublin said Friday’s find was clear evidence of the continued threat from dissident republicans.

One senior source estimated that “about 150” dissidents were of most immediate concern for the Garda as they were regarded as likely to be involved in planning or aiding terror attacks in the North.