Bombs and pistols seized as gardai raid Real IRA arms depot in city house
Bomb-making equipment has been discovered at a Dublin house being used as a major Real IRA arms depot.
Three handguns were also discovered in the haul which is believed to be linked to a major dissident extortion gang from the Donaghmede area that has gone to war with north Dublin's major drug gangs.
The ruthless republicans have been intimidating the remnants of the gang formerly run by murdered gangster Eamon 'The Don' Dunne to impose a 20pc drug tax on gangs.
Notorious gangster 'Fat' Freddie Thompson has been stockpiling arms to counter any extortion tactics levelled at his gang by the dissidents.
The house on Dublin's northside was raided by gardai from the Special Branch on Tuesday evening when the discovery was made.
Investigators initially uncovered three semi-automatic pistols but further searches unearthed bomb components.
The Army ordnance experts were called in when parts for two pipe bombs were found during a more detailed search.
But the pipes, which had been capped, did not contain any explosives.
Officers from the Garda Technical Bureau have removed the three handguns from the scene for ballistic tests to determine if they had been used in previous shootings in the city.
Sources have described the discovery as "significant".
"All these bombs needed was explosive material and they were ready for use," the source said. "They are created for one purpose and that's to kill, maim or intimidate."
Two men and a woman, all in their 20s, who were detained at the scene, were still being questioned this morning at Blackrock Garda Station.
They can be held without charge until tomorrow evening.
Officers believe the find is linked to a Real IRA faction, led by two brothers from a northside suburb.
This faction is suspected of being involved in a number of criminal activities to support a terror campaign in Northern Ireland, including extortion.
They are believed to be behind a number of murders and attempted assassinations over the past year.
The violent group has already claimed responsibility for the murders of Collie Owens (34) and low level drug dealer Sean Winters (40) in Dublin last year.
A source told the Herald that any criminal who finds himself a target of the dissidents should be very wary.
"These guys mean business. This time last year very few people were aware of these guys but they have become major players," the source said.
"These dissidents are ruthless and have no qualms about using extreme violence to exert their influence.
"They claim to be trying to rid the streets of dealers but they're really an extortion scam to raise money for themselves and their terror campaign."
In a chilling message last month, the gang declared that they were going to target Mark 'Guinea Pig' Desmond.
Desmond became a target of the gang after one of his associates became a chief suspect in the murder of a hitman used by the republican mob.
The dissident republicans are also the chief suspects in the shooting of Eamon Dunne's close pal Brian O'Reilly last August and the failed assassination attempt on the Don's mentor Eamonn Kelly.
Brian O'Reilly, who was a pallbearer at The Don's funeral, was sprayed by semi-automatic fire in a pub on Saturday August 7, but miraculously escaped with his life.
One of the national leaders of the Real IRA is currently living in Tallaght, and the northside brothers are believed to be operating under his command.
Officers said the search of the Artane house was a planned stand-alone operation and was not linked directly to other garda inquiries.