A massive haul of weapons recovered near Dublin Airport was the biggest ever seizure of dissident republican arms and explosives, gardai believe.
Up to 15kg of Semtex was seized, believed to have been stolen from the Provisional IRA in 1998 when the Real IRA split occurred.
The high explosive – purchased by the Provisional IRA 30 years ago in Libya – is usually used as a booster in bombs and this haul was sufficient for over 180 bombs.
The Garda said that just 80 grammes of the substance was used in a bomb that killed PSNI officer Ronan Kerr in April 2011 in Omagh.
The haul also included an Uzi sub-machine-gun, 10 revolvers and pistols ranging from Glocks to Walthers, Smith & Wessons and imitation guns, plus three shotguns.
One of the revolvers appeared to be golden.
The arms were seized last week in a search of lorry containers at the Old Airport Road in Cloghran, north Co Dublin.
Also recovered were electric igniters, detonator cord, pipe-bombs, a large amount of fireworks, a Taser, two silencers, about 1,300 rounds of assorted ammunition (primarily for 9mm weapons) and a range of electronic equipment, including jammers and scanners for phone and radio traffic.
The weapons are believed to have belonged to the New IRA, an alliance of dissident groups.
Gardai are satisfied the high-grade military explosive had been stored in a Provisional IRA arms dump that was meant to have been emptied and decommissioned as part of the peace process.
Anti-terrorist police officers on both sides of the border have always feared that some of the dumps, under the control of rogue quartermasters, had been untouched and stayed outside the reach of the decommissioning body.
A detailed forensic examination of the 15kg seized confirmed that the Semtex was not recently purchased and had been concealed for more than a decade.
Supt Dave Taylor said there was no doubt the seizure had foiled potentially lethal attacks by the renegade republicans. He added: "These weapons were meant for one reason only – to kill, maim and cause great destruction to the community."