Prison spaces have been set aside for more than a trebling of the population of dissident terrorists behind bars in the Republic.
This revelation came as Irish justice minister Dermot Ahern warned renegade republicans of a “relentless” Garda crackdown on their activities on the southern side of the border.
There are currently 56 dissident prisoners locked up in the E1 wing of the maximum security Portlaoise jail, which has traditionally housed terrorist inmates.
Senior prison officials said last night that cell space was available to accommodate a huge increase in the number of dissident inmates, despite the overall pressure on cell numbers in the jails generally.
While the threat level in the Republic is lower than in Northern Ireland, officers are concerned that the strength of the combined dissident groups in the south could be as high as 150 activists.