02 December 2005

Car explosive reveals return of IRA bomber

Belfast Telegraph

Tom Brady
02 December 2005

Gardai have identified a former top Provisional IRA explosives expert as the manufacturer of an under-car bomb seized by detectives in Dublin last week.

The bomb was primed and ready for use against a targeted renegade republican in a feud between dissident splinter groups in the capital and on the border.

The identification of the bomb-maker has heightened concerns among senior anti-terrorist officers about the role of former Provisional activists in criminality in the wake of the Northern peace deal.

The explosives expert is from outside Newry but lives in Dundalk. He played a major role in the IRA's terror campaign along the border in the 1980s and 1990s and was believed to have been heavily involved in the mortar attack which killed nine RUC officers at Newry police station in February 1985.

He spent some time behind bars. But after the internal row among leading Provisionals at a meeting in Falcarragh, Co Donegal, he split from the organisation and eventually joined the dissident Real IRA.

Since then, he has been heavily involved in organising robberies and was suspected of being linked to a couple of murders as well as drugs trafficking.

In recent months he has headed up a criminal outfit that comprised members of the Real IRA in Dundalk, the INLA in south and west Dublin and ordinary criminals.

But a falling out over the proceeds of "fund raisers" has led to a bitter feud between the dissidents and the under-car bomb was intended for a senior INLA man in Dublin.

Gardai think the likely target was the former INLA leader in the South.

Heavily armed members of the Garda's Emergency Response Unit seized the bomb when they intercepted a vehicle on the M1 motorway at Cloghran, Co Dublin, a week ago.

The bomb, which contained under half a kilo of explosive, was primed and included a magnet to attach it to the undercarriage of the target car.

It was fitted with a mercury tilt switch which meant it would detonate when the car moved - similar to the assassination of the former Conservative MP and close associate of Margaret Thatcher, Airey Neave.

The Cloghran bomb was also fitted with an anti-handling device to ensure the safety of the man transporting it from county Louth to Dublin.

Gardai believe the bomb was taken from Dundalk to Drogheda where it was handed over to the man in charge of delivering it.

But detectives moved in before it had reached its intended destination and the bomb was defused by Army ordnance experts.

In follow-up inquiries detectives recovered more than 100 rounds of assorted ammunition at an industrial estate in Blessington, Co Wicklow.

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