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Recruitment drive Dissident group poaching disillusioned New IRA members in border towns to boost comeback

The Sunday World can reveal the dissident group is reactivating in Derry and Dungiven areas and are targeting impressionable young men and women

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A police woman was targeted in Dungiven

A police woman was targeted in Dungiven

A police woman was targeted in Dungiven

Oglaigh na hEireann (ONH) have reformed and are recruiting in border towns.

The Sunday World can reveal the dissident group is reactivating in Derry and Dungiven areas and are targeting impressionable young men and women.

Local sources say there has been evidence that ONH in those areas are reforming with the intention to poach some members of the New IRA (NIRA) in Derry that has been left red-faced by recent court proceedings where it was revealed they were lacking in skills such as bomb-making.

In a recent court hearing in connection to bomb-making charges against Kieran McCool, it was revealed by officers that the terror group relied on Google to obtain details on how to build a bomb.

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Kieran McCool

Kieran McCool

Kieran McCool

“That was really embarrassing for the New IRA, the fact that they have claimed in the past to have recruited experienced members with pipe and bomb-making skills who will kill members of the security services when in fact they have no one really worth a mention. Their alleged, so-called master bomb-maker was sitting at home looking up Google for tips,” said one security source.

“There are members now asking questions about the levels of capability in the NIRA, some have walked and the plan is for them to reform ONH, that has already begun in areas like Derry, Dungiven with the intention to move in on Strabane. That’s the information I have received.

“What their plans are and who will head the gang in those areas is unclear at the minute. What is clear is that ONH will make a comeback and they will be closely monitored, that’s all I can say at the minute,” the source said.

Kieran McCool (52), from Ballymagowan Gardens in Derry, faces five charges, including three of possessing improvised explosive devices on dates between December 2015 and April this year.

He was arrested in connection to the device found beside a police officer’s car in Dungiven last month.

McCool was also charged with preparatory acts of terrorism between the same dates and possessing a mobile phone for use in an act of terrorism on dates between September 2017 and January 2019.

A court was told the explosive devices charges related to the incident in Dungiven, a device found on the Skeoge Road in Derry in July 2016 and a mortar discovered in Strabane in September 2019.

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A police officer told the court he believed McCool was a “bomb-maker on behalf of the New IRA” and had been involved in a series of incidents going back to 2015.

During the hearing an officer told the court there was “trace explosive evidence” on a jacket found in McCool’s house on March 18.

He added there was electronic evidence relating to internet searches on how to build explosive devices.

Another source told the Sunday World: “The fact they had to go on the internet says it all really but it does not rule out their threat. What it proves is that they have been bumming and blowing about the strength of their manpower and they have no real infrastructure.”

During McCool’s hearing his solicitor asked the officer if his client’s arrest in connection to the Dungiven attack was based on the fact that police believed they could link the defendant to material found on the Skeoge Road.

The officer in charge confirmed that is the case.

The officer said that the bomb-maker’s signature showed similar adaptations to timing devices and power units.

The judge said the charges were serious, but there was still a presumption of innocence.

Referring to the risk of further offences and “the well-documented attempt on the life of a police officer in Dungiven”, McCool was remanded in custody to appear at Derry Magistrates Court on June 10.

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