Man hurt by bomb was Garda informer

 

GARDAÍ BELIEVE a man injured when a booby trap pipe bomb exploded at his home yesterday was targeted by dissident republicans because he supplied vital information to the Garda about the 1998 Real IRA bombing in Omagh that killed 29 people.

Security sources said the device attached to the hall door of the home of Paddy Dixon (48) in Beech Grove, Johnstown Wood, Navan, Co Meath, was “sophisticated and designed to kill”.

The Irish Timesunderstands the device was hung on the hall door and was detonated by a piece of string or wire that had been set up to pull a triggering mechanism when the door was opened.

One Garda source said Mr Dixon opened his door just before 8am and appeared to realise something was not right, but moved suddenly and set off the bomb.

While he was hospitalised with only superficial injuries, gardaí are treating the attack as attempted murder. The scene of the bomb attack, a quiet middle class residential area, was sealed off by gardaí and underwent an examination by the Garda Technical Bureau.

The Defence Forces’ bomb disposal team was also carrying out a post-blast analysis of the scene yesterday to try to build a full profile of the device used.

A major security operation involving the Garda’s anti-terrorist Special Detective Unit and the National Bureau of Criminal Investigation serious crimes squad has been put in place to investigate the attack.

Minister for Justice Alan Shatter is also expected to be briefed on the case, which is regarded as politically sensitive.

The families of the Omagh victims and a Tory MP have in the past been critical of the British and Irish governments for not pursuing Mr Dixon over allegations he had supplied vehicles to the Real IRA that they used in their terrorist activities.

It was believed he had been living in the UK or continental Europe until recent years. However, The Irish Times understands he has for at least four years been living at the address in Navan where he was attacked yesterday.

Senior Garda officers are now concerned that the Real IRA have had Mr Dixon, a key informer before and after the Omagh bomb, under surveillance for some time with a view to murdering him.

The same group has already claimed responsibility for the murder in Glenties, Co Donegal, of British informer Denis Donaldson at a remote farmhouse in April 2006.

Mr Dixon, who is originally from Blanchardstown in west Dublin, lives at the house in Navan with his son Mark Dixon.

Another son, Ciarán Dixon (28), was jailed for six years in 2008 for threatening to kill a man who owed money to drug dealers that he, Ciarán Dixon, had introduced him to. Ciarán Dixon told the court he was only collecting the debt after the drug dealers had kidnapped a man close to him.

Gardaí believe yesterday’s bomb attack is linked to Paddy Dixon’s role in informing on the Real IRA rather than being aimed against either of his sons.

Paddy Dixon had supplied stolen cars to the Real IRA in the 1990s. However, he was also a Garda informer at the time and was supplying information to the Garda on the Real IRA. This led to the arrests of members of that group and the thwarting of terrorist attacks in the North.

His Garda handler was Det Sgt John White, who was strongly criticised by the Morris tribunal, which found he had fabricated evidence.

It found he planted a gun in a Travellers’ encampment in order to arrest and question a number of Travellers regarding the robbery and murder of a pensioner for which they were not responsible.

It has been claimed Mr Dixon supplied information to the Garda specifically about vehicles used in the Omagh bombing, but that these vehicles were allowed to cross the Border into Northern Ireland in a bungled effort to protect Mr Dixon’s identity as an informer.

The families of the Omagh victims have been critical of the alleged bungling of intelligence, which the Garda has strongly denied, and have called for years for an independent inquiry into it.

They have also been critical of the British and Irish governments for not ensuring Mr Dixon was questioned by the PSNI.