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AK-47 ‘belonged to Provisional IRA’

Gardai are satisfied that an AK-47 assault rifle seized during a planned raid on a house in Cork yesterday belonged to the Provisional IRA.

They believe the rifle had been part of the huge haul of weaponry decommissioned by the Provisionals as part of the Northern Ireland peace process but it had not been handed in for destruction.

Officers arrested a 60-year-old man detectives believed was a republican sympathiser. They said they did not believe the rifle was intended for use in criminal activity.

Acting on intelligence, gardai searched the house and a vehicle at Gurrane, Ballyhea, at 9.30am yesterday and found the rifle.

The man was being questioned by gardai last night under section 30 of the Offences Against the State Act. The AK-47 was the favoured rifle of the provisionals during the latter half of their terrorist campaign and was a key component of two massive arms shipments imported from Libya and landed at Clogga Strand, outside Arklow, in 1985 and 1986.

A large number of the rifles were subsequently recovered by gardai when they uncovered a network of arms hides dotted across the Republic and the rest were decommissioned by the IRA.

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