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The scene of the robbery in Dungiven, Derry, last weekend. Niall Carson via PA Images
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Gardaí probe dissident links to spate of ATM robberies

Eight ATMs have been stolen across the border in a matter of weeks.

GARDAÍ AND THE PSNI are investigating dissident links to a spate of ATM robberies which are happening across the border region. 

Late last Sunday, a cash machine was ripped from a filling station on the Feeny Road in Derry.

It was the eighth ATM theft in Northern Ireland this year, while similar incidents have also taken place south of the border in Cavan and Monaghan.

Gardaí are investigating a number of different theories. However, both officers here and those across the border are probing if dissident republicans are behind the seizures. One avenue of investigation is that dissident republicans are stockpiling money in the event of a hard Brexit.

Security analyst Tom Clonan told last week that organised crime gangs operating in border areas were almost certainly responsible for the slew of robberies.

Clonan said that the thefts showed the “fingerprint of either a paramilitary group of a dissident group”. 

Gardaí have been increasing their surveillance of those they believe are the main players in dissident republicanism. 

As the possibility of a no deal Brexit moves ever closer, gardaí believe certain elements of the dissident community are unearthing cachés of weapons which have been buried in a number of locations across the region for a number of years.

Gardaí are also in the process of drawing up a list of suspected dissidents who could become active in the wake of a hard border being installed. The suspects’ names, addresses, places they frequent and their associates are being compiled in the event of further dissident-related incidents. Gardaí are also continuing surveillance operations on more than 100 people they believe are involved in directing dissident activity across Ireland.

Former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern spoke about the IRA’s links to the ATM thefts. Speaking on The Stand with Eamon Dunphy, Ahern said: “From what I hear the dissident groups have been recruiting. Unfortunately, but you can understand how that happens in these circumstances.

“I don’t think the ATMs are being robbed by the boy scouts. All you have to do is read the paper to see what’s going on.

“They are recruiting. The information is they are recruiting. Thankfully, from what I hear, not experienced former members of the IRA which would be really desperate but they are pulling in new kids who obviously are being stirred up by all this stuff.”

In the event of a no-deal Brexit, Ahern said, whatever checks need to take place cannot happen “on the border or near the border”.

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