Gardai monitor new dissident group's top dog
SPECIALIST detectives are closely monitoring the activities of a young man who has become one of the main players in a dissident Republican splinter group known as the Irish Republican Voice.
The Special Detective Unit has put a surveillance operation in place in relation to the Westmeath criminal, who was only recently released from jail.
Sources say the dissident Republican suspect has been involved in a number of robberies and a campaign of intimidation and extortion in the midlands since he walked free from jail.
"He is a very serious criminal and he is now one of the top dogs in this organisation, which is made up of some people who were very close to Alan Ryan who was murdered last year," said a source.
The Herald can reveal that the criminal is closely linked to Westmeath republican Simon Maxwell (47), who is suing the State for malicious prosecution after claiming that he was the target of a sting operation mounted by gardai to embarrass the IRA at a key stage in the peace process.
Simon and his brother Thomas were charged and ultimately acquitted of handling a shipment of vodka following an alleged hijacking at Dunshaughlin, Co Meath, in April 2006.
The brothers were cleared of the charges after their lawyers produced surveillance footage taken by a garda spotter plane which suggested the shipment had not even been stolen.
At the time of their arrest, Thomas Maxwell was involved in decommissioning IRA weapons as part of the peace process.