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Extra time for police to quiz CIRA suspects

By Nevin Farrell

Police were last night granted an extra five days to question seven of 12 suspects arrested as part of a major probe into Continuity IRA activity.

Five of the dozen men - aged 36, 38, 44, 45 and 48 - arrested on Monday night in Newry have been released pending a report to the Public Prosecution Service.

One of those arrested - 58-year-old Patrick Joseph 'Mooch' Blair - was still being held.

He was named in the House of Commons by Lagan Valley DUP MP Jeffrey Donaldson, using Parliamentary privilege, as having "helped to construct the Omagh bomb" which killed 29 people in 1998.

Blair later denied any involvement in the atrocity.

Elite anti-terrorist officers, clutching automatic weapons and wearing helmets fitted with cameras and voice mics, were accompanied by over a dozen Land Rovers as they raided a small bungalow and arrested 12 men in Newry on Monday night.

Police said the men were aged between 36 and 75.

The PSNI described the operation was part of a "proactive investigation into violent dissident republican activity in Northern Ireland".

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