Belfast Telegraph

Man arrested in Scotland after 'significant' weapons discovery

By Deborah McAleese

Police investigating the murder of PSNI constable Ronan Kerr have caused serious disruption to the terrorist campaign following a “significant” arms find in Co Tyrone and the arrest of a man in Scotland.

The 26-year-old was arrested in Dunbartonshire yesterday in connection with the discovery and is back in Northern Ireland for questioning.

Arms, including four Kalashnikov rifles, detonators, rocket launcher components and possible Semtex explosive were discovered on Tuesday night in Coalisland, east Tyrone. Timer devices were also among the find.

Earlier this week the detective in charge of the investigation into Constable Kerr’s murder said that the bomb placed under his car had contained a timing mechanism which may have been for the safety of the bombers.

The weapons were found inside stolen cars in a garage unit at Mountjoy Road in Coalisland.

The find in Tyrone comes after the Belfast Telegraph revealed that security services were monitoring the movements of a former senior IRA figure in the area.

Head of PSNI Crime Operations Assistant Chief Constable Drew Harris said it was one of the most significant finds for the police in recent years.

The weapons are being “fast-tracked for forensic examination” and form one line of inquiry in the murder investigation.

Mr Harris said that “everyone in our country is much safer today because these munitions have been taken out of circulation”.

Given such a significant weapons find just days into the investigation, police appear to be acting on very strong and reliable intelligence.

Following the discovery, detectives from the PSNI, working with Strathclyde Police, arrested the man on the main street of Renton, Dunbartonshire, at lunchtime yesterday.

Mr Harris said that the police investigation into Constable Kerr’s murder will continue in the coming days and weeks “with the same determination and professionalism” which resulted in Tuesday night’s weapons discovery.

News of the arrest came shortly after Constable Kerr’s funeral in Co Tyrone.

Mr Harris said that while it was heartbreaking, it was also “heartening to see so many ordinary, decent people from so many different walks of life come to pay their respects to a young man who had his whole life and career in policing in front of him”.

He added: “Many of Ronan's colleagues from the Police Service of Northern Ireland attended the funeral, but many others were unable to attend because they have been working round the clock on the investigation into his murder.”

Up to 100 detectives have been drafted in to investigate the murder of Constable Kerr.

A £50,000 reward has also been offered by Crimestoppers for information that will lead police to the 25-year-old’s killers.

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