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MI5 tout behind New IRA arrests

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Raid: Saoradh offices in Newry

Raid: Saoradh offices in Newry

Raid: Saoradh offices in Newry

An MI5 spook has brought the New IRA to the brink of collapse.

A series of arrests of alleged high-profile dissident figures are the result of the work of a deep throat spook in what is being seen as a major strike against the terror group.

The Sunday World understands the tout is a UK national who wormed his way into the trust of the dissident group and who supplied safe houses.

Voice recordings and video footage are at the centre of the arrests, but the Sunday World understands the informant's alleged identity has already been circulated on social media and he is now thought to be in the protection of British military intelligence services.

His identity cannot be revealed for legal reasons.

He is now public enemy number one and now faces a life of anonymity and looking over his shoulder.

His bombshell collaboration with British intelligence services has left the New IRA in turmoil.

After a series of high-profile arrests and raids on offices belonging to Saoradh the net appears to finally closing in on the criminal gang.

Both MI5 and the PSNI, over the period of almost one year, have obtained recordings and video footage they believe will be enough to convict some of the alleged main movers in the terrorist outfit.

The Sunday World can reveal its sources allege that the New IRA believe they were part of a slick MI5 sting that was made possible with the assistance of an agent that infiltrated their ranks.

Dissident sources have alleged that a man, not from Northern Ireland, who made rental bookings for safe houses and provided cars for the leadership is one of the main suspects for bringing the NIRA to its knees.

Another man from Belfast is also suspected of having a role in Operation Arbacia.

The Sunday World can also reveal they fear that the nine arrests, that has so far resulted in Paddy McDaid and Shay Reynolds being charged yesterday with a string of terrorist offences, is just the beginning.

Another man, a 62-year-old, was arrested at Heathrow Airport yesterday and detained under the Terrorism Act.

"We have been screwed over and we know by who," a senior dissident source told us.

"This is just the beginning, we firmly believe their will be more charges and more people will be arrested.

"There are a lot of worried people out there tonight, this has a different feeling, because who we suspect of informing knows a lot about a lot of people."

Blow

The source conceded they face an uncertain future.

"This is a major blow, to be honest it could be one we won't recover easily from. The leadership is reeling from this. We believe more will be charged on Monday and that MI5 are just sitting back ready to pounce again, they'll be enjoying this," another source said.

The Sunday World understands that several members have left their homes in fear of being arrested.

"There are some involved who know if they are found guilty will be going away for a very long time, especially the lads with previous and quite a lot of the senior members have form. The rug has literally been pulled from under our feet and no one saw it coming, not on this scale anyway."

Under cross-examination at Belfast Magistrates Court yesterday where Paddy McDaid and Shay Reynolds were charged with IRA membership and terrorism plots, Detective Chief Inspector Griffin confirmed MI5 had been involved in the investigation.

He maintained however that Reynolds was "made fully aware" of their involvement and denied that he released reports to the media about the involvement of MI5.

Appearing at court via videolink from police custody, Reynolds (26), from Belvedere Manor in Lurgan, and McDaid (50), from Magowan Park in Derry, were both jointly accused of membership of a proscribed organisation, directing terrorism, and involvement in preparatory acts of terrorism in that they allegedly attended meetings in Omagh where terrorism acts were discussed.

Reynolds faces a further charge of conspiracy to possess explosives, namely Semtex, with intent to endanger life. Due to a clerical error a fifth charge, accusing him of conspiring to possess ammunition with intent to endanger life, was not read out but District Judge Mark Hamill ordered it to be added administratively.

All of the offences are alleged to have been committed between February 8 and July 20 this year.

The charges arised as part of Operation Arbacia, which is "an ongoing investigation into the activities of the New IRA," according to PSNI Assistant Chief Constable Barbara Gray who said in an earlier statement that seven men and two women, aged between 26 and 50, were arrested on Tuesday in early morning raids in Derry, Tyrone and Armagh.

The two women and five men remain in police custody.

DCI Griffin told the court he believed he could connect McDaid and Reynolds to their respective charges.

As there were no objections to the prosecution application for a four week remand, District Judge Hamill remanded the pair into custody and adjourned the case to September 18, ordering that unless there are counter arguments that the case should stay in the Belfast courts.

Last night it emerged that three other people had been charged, including a 48-year-old man whose charges include directing terrorism, a 32-year-old man from Derry and a 43-year-old man from the Dungannon area.

paula.mackin@sundayworld.com