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'Long-term target' Man (41) arrested in dissident probe previously jailed for role in car bomb attack

He was jailed after admitting his role in a car bomb attack in Northern Ireland but has been out of prison for a number of years.

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Portlaoise Prison, Co Laois. Photo: Damien Eagers.

Portlaoise Prison, Co Laois. Photo: Damien Eagers.

Portlaoise Prison, Co Laois. Photo: Damien Eagers.

A 41-year-old man who was arrested yesterday by detectives investigating dissident Republican activity previously served a lengthy jail sentence for explosive offences.

The suspect who is believed to have links to the New IRA served the jail term on a Republican wing of Ireland’s highest security prison in Portlaoise.

Sources say that the Dundalk man has been a long term target for the gardai’s Special Detective Unit (SDU).

He was jailed after admitting his role in a car bomb attack in Northern Ireland but has been out of prison for a number of years.

Gardai announced details of yesterday’s arrest operation which sources have described as “significant.”

“Gardaí have seized a firearm and a quantity of ammunition and arrested one man following a search operation in County Louth,” a garda spokesman said.

“Gardaí, investigating activity in the Old Newry Road area of Dundalk, County Louth, carried out a search during the course of which a firearm and a quantity of ammunition were seized.

“During a follow up operation, a male in his 40s was arrested on Monday, 9th August, 2021 by Gardaí from the Special Detective Unit.

“This man is currently detained at Dundalk Garda Station under the provisions of Section 30 - Offences Against the State Act, 1939.

“Investigations are ongoing,” the spokesman explained.

In June, a report was published which stated that dissident Republican activity in Northern Ireland diminished last year due to pressure from the security forces and changes in society brought about by Covid.

The Independent Reviewer of National Security Arrangements in Northern Ireland also said, however, that the threat from dissident republican and loyalist paramilitary groups remains.

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And last month it was revealed that dozens of police officers in Northern Ireland have had to beef up security at their homes in the past three years due to the continuing threat from dissident republicans.

Some even had to move house in the face of the terrorist threat, according to the Police Federation for Northern Ireland (PFNI).

This week’s garda operation is one of the most significant carried out by the SDU since three people were arrested in May in Co Cavan by officers investigating a suspected Continuity IRA cell.

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