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AK47 and bomb equipment are found in raids

Gardai launched their biggest crackdown this year on dissident Republicans with two major raids over the weekend which yielded five firearms - including an AK47 - and a suspected bomb-making operation.

Dozens of heavily armed officers were involved in the searches of the properties in the Ballymun and East Wall areas of the capital's northside in which a veteran Republican political activist and a suspected bomb maker were targeted.

Our photographs show members of the army bomb disposal team in Ballymun, at around 3pm yesterday where they carried out a controlled explosion on bomb-making equipment which was found in a house raided by the Special Detective Unit on Saturday afternoon.

At the same time that the Ballymun raid happened, detectives searched a house in the East Wall area and recovered number of semi automatic pistols, a sawn-off shotgun and an AK 47 assault rifle.

Activist

A 59-year-old dissident Republican political activist, who was formerly a very close associate of slain Real IRA figure Alan Ryan, was arrested at the scene in East Wall.

Despite having barely any previous convictions, the veteran Republican is suspected of playing a major role in the IRA and was one of the main players in the so called "clean up" in the organisation after Alan Ryan was murdered in September, 2012.

As part of this clean-up, a number of men were expelled from the organisation and at least three punishment shootings happened.

The suspect was still being questioned at Mountjoy Garda Station last night.

Meanwhile it has been confirmed that "items which could be used to make bombs" were found in a search of a property at Balbutcher Drive in Ballymun.

It is understood detectives discovered the substances underneath the floor boards in the house on Saturday night and army specialists were called to the scene at around 1pm yesterday.

The 47-year-old suspect who was the target of this operation was also in garda custody last night and the Herald can reveal that he is currently on bail for IRA membership charges.

He was previously arrested and charged after gardai discovered around 15kg of highly dangerous Semtex which was discovered at a Real IRA storage depot close to Dublin Airport.

Sources say that since he got bail, he has continued to be involved in IRA activities but is considered "a nuisance" by more senior players in the mob.

Faction

The weekend's big crackdown on dissident Republicans comes against a background of increased attempts by the criminals to show more unity with the INLA faction to which Declan 'Whacker' Duffy is linked, hosting hotel meetings with some very close associates of murdered Alan Ryan.

The Herald revealed on Saturday that convicted killer Duffy is back in Dublin and is already attempting to extort cash from other criminals.

hnews@herald.ie


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