NewsCrime Desk

Cache of terrorist weapons found in wooded area included 3 mortars

Crime DeskBy Shuki Byrne
Gardai said a number of AK 47 rifles were discovered in the searches
Gardai said a number of AK 47 rifles were discovered in the searches

A large cache of weapons and ammunition discovered in a wooded area was believed to have been in the hands to the Provisional IRA after being stolen a number of years ago.

The search was launched in the Scotstown area of Co Monaghan, near the border with Northern Ireland, after a 43-year-old man was arrested last Wednesday and subsequently charged with IRA membership.

Gardai said the arms dump contained AK47s, detonators, detonating cord and components for making improvised explosive devices. Three mortars were also discovered during the operation. The searches are continuing. 

A number of weapons were discovered in hides, while some were found buried underground in plastic. 

An Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) Team arrived on scene at 2.45pm last Thursday, where they remained until Monday afternoon.

"All items discovered were made safe and handed over to An Garda Síochána to assist them with their investigation," a spokesman added.

Gardai said the operation involved officers from its anti-terror division, the special detective unit, dog handlers and its armed emergency response unit as well as local officers.

The searches followed the arrest of Jim Smyth, from Aghalissabeagh, Scotstown, a rural area about a mile from the border. He was charged with IRA membership at the Special Criminal Court in Dublin on Saturday evening.

He was remanded in custody until Wednesday morning, when a bail application is expected to be heard.

Gardaí are satisfied that the haul was not currently in the possession of any particular dissident republican organisation but are concerned the cache was to be used in the run-up to Christmas. 

Anti-terrorist officers are now trying to establish the identity of the 'quartermaster' who was in charge of the arsenal during the Provisional war of terror in Northern Ireland.