A “significant” dissident republican explosives dump and arms cache has been uncovered by anti-terror gardaí.
An improvised mortar, three kilos of TNT, bomb-making equipment and a pipe bomb were found hidden in a wood in Co Louth.
The weapons haul included a general-purpose machine gun, a shotgun and assorted ammunition. The TNT explosives – a powerful explosive commonly used by the military and in mining – were found in the wooded area near Dunleer.
The finds were the second massive blow to suspected factions of the Real IRA in recent days and followed 10 arrests and separate searches over the weekend.
Garda Commissioner Fachtna Murphy said the discovery was “significant” and added: “This find represents a further step in our determined strategy to target, disrupt and detect the activities of dissident republicans.
“We continue to work closely with our colleagues in the Police Service of Northern Ireland and in the Security Service to thwart the intent of a small group of people who want to inflict violence and pain on communities.”
Justice Minister Dermot Ahern praised the work of detectives, saying: “This was a very significant find at a time when the threat from dissident groups poses dangers for law-abiding people.
“I want to congratulate An Garda Síochána for their detailed work in this area.”
A Garda spokesman said a series of raids were carried out yesterday morning in Co Louth, which straddles the border with Northern Ireland, and its neighbouring county Meath.
It is the second time this year that material for a suspected mortar bomb attack has been uncovered by authorities.
A device suspected of being made into a mortar was uncovered near Dundalk, Co Louth, in May.
The latest major operation, led by the anti-terror Special Detective Unit, followed 10 arrests and explosive seizures at the weekend in a wave of raids in Louth, Waterford and Wexford.
Bomb detonators and a small quantity of Semtex plastic explosive were seized.
Two men were charged in Dublin’s non-jury Special Criminal Court on Sunday night in connection with the anti-dissident operation.
Nicholas Kendall (aged 20) of Row Street, Wexford, was charged with unlawful possession of a semi-automatic pistol, ammunition and a bomb part.
Peter Butterly (aged 33,) of Cortown in Dunleer, Co Louth, was charged with being a member of the IRA.
The eight others included a 24-year-old woman and men aged from 19 to 71.