A suspected terror chief and three young men were arrested yesterday in a massive security operation targeting dissident republicans. Specialist anti-terrorism squads and elite armed units, directed by Garda Intelligence, went to 20 addresses in counties Louth, Dublin and Wexford and arrested four suspects.
The main suspect, a man in his 60s, was arrested on suspicion of directing terrorism, while the three others, in their 20s, were arrested on suspicion of membership of an illegal organisation and possession of explosives.
Gardaí located a suspect device in Courtown, Co Wexford. They cordoned the area off and called in an Army explosive ordnance device team.
Gardaí said they recovered component parts of explosive devices at some of the other locations. A senior Garda source described the operation as very significant and said searches were continuing, focusing on Co Louth
The operation was the brainchild of the Crime and Security Section at Garda Headquarters, the force’s intelligence service, and conducted by the Special Detective Unit, the organisation’s anti-terror squad.
A Garda statement said it was part of an “ongoing investigation into dissident republican activity”.
Sources said the operation targeted Real IRA splinter group, Óglaigh na hÉireann. The main suspect arrested is suspected to be a senior leader in that group. It said 20 searches were conducted in Louth, Dublin and Wexford yesterday morning.
It said the operation involved the Emergency Response Unit, the force’s highly armed intervention squad, the Technical Bureau, the Dog Unit and gardaí from the Louth and Wexford divisions.
“As part of this investigation four males were arrested. One in his 60s and the other three in their 20s,” the statement said. They are detained under Section 30 of the Offences Against Act.
In an unrelated operation, gardaí in Co Leitrim recovered a firearm and suspected component parts of explosives during a traffic stop of a vehicle at Glenfarne on the N16. Two males in their 20s were arrested.
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