Suspected dissidents held over fears of poll terror plot

6 May 2010
Irish Independent
Tom Brady

FIVE men were in police custody last night after a cross-border clampdown on dissident republicans aimed at preventing a terrorist outrage to coincide with the British general election.

The suspects were detained by the PSNI and the gardai following a series of raids by armed officers.

The searches were carried out as a result of an intelligence gathering operation, focused particularly on suspected members of the Continuity IRA and their associates.

Detectives from the Garda Special Branch at Harcourt Square in Dublin, backed up by local officers, detained two men in the Dundalk area yesterday morning after searching several homes.

They were being questioned last night at Drogheda garda station about suspected links to renegade republican groups. They were being held under section 30 of the Offences Against the State Act, which allowed gardai to keep them in custody without charge for up to three days.

One of the duo is a prominent republican activist in the border area. He has previous criminal convictions and has been linked in the past to the INLA, although more recently he is thought to have been connected with other dissident groups.

A total of five were arrested in the joint police operation and some of them are suspected of being involved in the Continuity IRA, although anti-terrorist sources said last night they were also investigating links with other renegade groups.

Police on both sides have been on a heightened state of alert in the border region over the past few weeks in the run up to the election, as they feared that some of the dissidents had been planning a terror "spectacular" to grab the headlines.

Senior detectives were also concerned at increasing attacks on security targets by the Continuity IRA and the Real IRA.

Officers from the PSNI arrested two suspects in Derry and Strabane and both were taken for questioning to Antrim police station yesterday.

The three others were arrested in Newry as the PSNI stepped up their inquiries into recent dissident activity in south Armagh.

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