GARDAÍ BELIEVE THAT while the the number of dissident republicans active in Ireland is small, they are “focused”.
Speaking to members of the media today, Assistant Commissioner John O’Mahony displayed a sample of the weapons seized from dissident groups in recent years.
They included assault rifles, a sniper rifle, home-made rockets, a pistol, ammunition, semtex and a beer keg bomb which had the capacity to kill tens of people.
O’Mahony said that the three main dissident groups on the island of Ireland – the Real IRA, the Continuity IRA and Óglaigh na hÉireann – were recruiting younger members.
When you look at some of these devices, it shows an increasing level of sophistication. While their numbers are small, they are very focused and very clear in their objectives. We spend a significant amount of time and resources in combating their activities.
He said that the weapons represented a sample of the 30 firearms and large amount of ammunitions and explosives seized in the last five years. The condition of many of the weapons, he said, did not make them any less lethal.
“They continue to improve on these devices and they’re less and less crude as time goes on.
We’ve had a number of attacks on the PSNI, British Army and prison officers. We had the visit of Prince Philip last year and the visit of the Queen in 2011 and on both occasions, there were significant plans for attacks.
O’Mahony appealed to young people not to join dissident groups.
“If people are considering [joining], we are out there, we are monitoring.”
He added that dissident groups were recruiting through “idealism and peer pressure”, but said that many dissidents are involved in organised crime, something which caused “tension” in the criminal world.
O’Mahony said that these groups “absolutely” have the capacity to carry out attacks in the Republic.