January 31, 2001
Provos on disciplinary mission, say gardaí
THE suspected Provisional IRA active service unit which was intercepted by
gardaí may have been on a mission to discipline members of the Real and
Continuity IRA, garda sources believe.
The four men were stopped at a routine garda traffic corps checkpoint and
were arrested after a garda asked her colleague to radio for help when she
spotted a hand gun in the blue Ford Fiesta. The four men did not try to
escape once caught.
The men are being held under section 30 of the Offences Against the State
Act and were last night detained in four separate garda stations in Cork.
Detectives are trying to identify the target or targets of the operation.
All four are believed by gardaí to be members of the PIRA, one of whom, a
man in his 40s, is said to a very senior activist with a previous conviction
for possession of arms in 1980 for which he served seven years in prison.
The other three men are in their 20s.
Last night garda ballistic experts were examining the three automatic
handguns the men were carrying. All four guns were loaded and in pristine
The implications of the arrest of the PIRA unit on the peace process will
become known in the coming days.
“We are not sure what they were up to as they had baseball bats as well.
They may have been engaged in some sort of disciplinary measures or threats
against dissident republicans who have been very active of late. We are
trying to trace where the guns originated, but the US is our best guess,” a
senior garda involved in the investigation said last night.
The car used by the four Cork men in the foiled operation was stolen in
Waterford and fitted with false number plates.
There are a number of high ranking CIRA and RIRA people living within a 15
mile radius of the arrest site. A farmer in the Fermoy area was arrested in
recent weeks and brought by gardaí to Monaghan where he was questioned about
the Real IRA bombing of Omagh.