herald

Sunday 4 December 2016

Real IRA boss among six held in raids ahead of Charles visit

Britain's Prince Charles and Camilla Parker-Bowles
Britain's Prince Charles and Camilla Parker-Bowles
Charles and Camilla
Seamus McGrane

One of the founders of the Real IRA remained in garda custody today after a number of garda raids in counties Louth, Wexford, Dublin and Kildare yesterday.

The arrests came amid increased security ahead of next week's visit of Prince Charles and his wife Camilla.

Seamus McGrane and three other men are being held in garda stations in Dublin after their dramatic arrests yesterday. McGrane is being questioned about directing terrorism.

McGrane (60), from Dromiskin, Co Louth, was previously jailed for four years for taking part in a Real IRA training camp in Co Meath in October 1999, in which he admitted training other dissident Republicans in how to use fireams.

Among those also arrested at the training camp were slain Real IRA boss Alan Ryan and his older brother Anthony Ryan.

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Charles and Camilla

Sources said that McGrane has been suspected of remaining heavily involved in IRA activity since that time and his arrest yesterday followed a major surveillance operation by the Special Detective Unit.

In a separate operation on the N16 road in Co Leitrim, two Limerick men aged in their 20s, who are suspected members of the Continuity IRA, were arrested when their car was searched and a pistol and two viable pipe bombs were discovered.

The scene where the two Continuity IRA men were arrested is a short distance from Sligo Racecourse, which Charles and Camilla are due to visit.

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Seamus McGrane

However, sources said that gardai are investigating whether the men were on their way to Sligo in relation to a bitter feud brewing for months between dissident Republicans and a drugs gang, which has strong connections to feared Dublin gangster Mark 'Guinea Pig' Desmond.

Detectives are probing if the Limerick men were going to get involved in this criminal dispute in the north west.

Meanwhile three Army Bomb Disposal Teams were deployed yesterday to assist the garda investigations in Dromiskin, Co Louth, and Courtown, Co Wexford - where bomb components were found - as well as in the Manorhamilton area of Co Leitrim where the two pipe bombs were discovered in the car.

The six arrests yesterday came after 20 garda searches. The searches came as gardai the PSNI step up their security plans ahead of the royal visit.

Detectives have increased patrols in north Sligo, where Charles and Camilla are due to the visit the scene of the 1979 murder of the prince's great-uncle Lord Mountbatten in Mullaghmore.

Armed garda regional response units also have been deployed in the border area between counties Fermanagh and Donegal.

Cross-border meetings involving gardai and the PSNI have also taken place, with both forces deploying some of the security measures used during the G8 summit in 2013.

Charles and Camilla will arrive on May 19 when they will visit Galway and the Burren in Co Clare before having a private dinner with President Higgins and his wife Sabina. They will travel to Sligo the following day to visit Mullaghmore.

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