12 August 2005

Huge cache of IRA ammo dumped in Kerry

Irish Examiner

**Via News Hound

By John Breslin

THOUSANDS of rounds of assault rifle ammunition, discovered earlier this week in north Kerry, are believed to have been dumped by the IRA in the area.

The haul was left close to a river walk near Tralee, prompting speculation the IRA wanted the ammunition to be found.

Gardaí search teams located the ammunition on Tuesday at Tonevane, just outside Tralee.

It is believed the cache included ammunition for AK-47 assault rifles. The ammunition was thought to have been dumped in a field on Monday night.

In a statement last month ordering an end to its armed campaign, the IRA leadership told members to dispose of arms.

Most of the weapons and ammunition are held in two dumps. However, individual units, despite the organisation being on ceasefire for all but 18 months of the last 11 years, held on to some guns and ammunition for ‘training purposes’.

There was confusion as to how the individual units would dump their stockpiles safely, without taking the risk of transporting them.

If, as seems likely, this was a stage-managed dumping of ammunition, it would be the first known act of local decommissioning.

Gardaí in Tralee confirmed a couple of thousand rounds of ammunition were discovered but released few other details.

The force’s press office said it had no information about the discovery of the ammunition.

However, reliable sources in the area, the stronghold of TD and former IRA gun-runner Martin Ferris, said the ammunition was for Kalashnikov AK-47 assault rifles, the favoured weapon of the paramilitary group.

Local sources said there was some activity in the area on Monday night, though not suspicious enough to warrant a call to the gardaí.

The following morning, gardaí went straight to the field where they found the ammunition.

“There is no question the ammunition was for use in assault rifles. The only possible explanation is that they were left there by the IRA,” said a local source.

While the amount discovered on Tuesday is minimal compared to the vast arsenal the IRA has built up, it is significant if local units are complying with the leadership’s orders to dump arms, and ensuring that gardaí find them.

In separate moves, the IRA is reported to have begun to collect guns from local units for transport to central dumps.

The organisation is expected to carry out a major act of decommissioning, to be overseen by international monitors headed by retired Canadian general John de Chastelain.

There were hopes of early movement following the organisation’s July 28 statement declaring the end of its armed struggle.

However, Mr de Chastelain has returned to Canada and the other monitors are on holiday for most of the month.

It could be next month before the process begins.

A Protestant minister and Catholic priest will accompany the monitors when the expected major acts of decommissioning take place.

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