MORE than 50 people were arrested for terrorist-related activities in Ireland last year — more than twice the number in 2007.
Official figures show 49 of the 52 arrests were related to dissident republican groups, while three were related to suspected Islamic terrorism.
Ireland is just one of 10 states of the 27 EU countries to record the arrest of people for Islamic terrorist activities.
It does not say what these activities are, but previous investigations in Ireland centred around financial and logistical support, such as forged passports and documentation.
The previously unreported statistics are contained in a terrorism report compiled by Europol, the EU police coordination agency.
The EU Terrorism Situation and Trend Report 2009 said Ireland had the fifth highest number of terrorism arrests in the EU last year. The number of arrests have jumped from four in 2006 to 24 in 2007 to 52 last year.
“The increase in terrorist activities in the Republic of Ireland is reflected in the number of persons arrested and charged with unlawful membership of the organisation and other related offences.”
The report said that, of the 49 dissident republicans arrested:
* 28 were members of the INLA.
* Nine were members of the so-called Real IRA.
* Four were linked to the Continuity IRA.
The report said Ireland was one of just seven EU states which recorded a terrorist attack in 2008.
“Although the IrishNational Liberation Army (INLA) declared a ceasefire in 1998, two separate terrorist attacks targeting private property took place and were attributed to the INLA in 2008,” said the report.
These incidents are thought to refer to a criminal feud between a south Dublin drug gang and the INLA’s Dublin unit.
Nine people were tried on terrorism charges in 2008, with seven being convicted. The average sentence was 11 years, the third highest in the EU.
Written before the shooting dead of two soldiers and one PSNI officer in the North last month, the report said both the Real IRA and the CIRA continued to be engaged in “crime and violence” there, including shootings and bombings.
“It can be expected that these terrorist activities may continue in the future,” it said.
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