Belfast Telegraph

Police foil huge dissident Semtex bomb plot

Capture of New IRA explosives in Dublin swoop has undoubtedly saved lives, says Donaldson

By David Young

A blow was dealt to dissidents when the gardai foiled a massive New IRA bomb plot by seizing a 6kg consignment of Semtex in Dublin on Friday night.

Security sources said that the Semtex was “brand new” and had been sourced for the terror group within the last few weeks. Two men were arrested during the raid — one of them believed to have close links to the New IRA.

The DUP’s Sir Jeffrey Donaldson praised the gardai as having “saved lives”, but expressed concern at the prospect of dissident groups having access to new supplies of Semtex.

Dramatic raid

Heavily armed detectives carrying sub-machine guns stopped a seven-seater taxi during the dramatic raid shortly after 6pm.

Security sources told the Irish Independent that the Semtex explosives was "brand new" and had been sourced for the terror group within the last few weeks.

Reacting to the news, DUP Lagan Valley General election candidate Jeffrey Donaldson said the Garda interception "had undoubtedly saved lives".

Two men were arrested during the raid - one of them believed to have close links to the New IRA.

The arrests are part of an ongoing investigation by the Garda Special Detective Unit into dissident republican activity.

A senior source said that the explosives recovered were "big enough to blow up a street".

"There were six kilos of Semtex recovered, which would have caused serious damage if used. It is a major catch for gardai."

'Worrying development'

Jeffrey Donaldson said the possession of new Semtex by dissident Republicans was a very worrying development.

"It indicates that the dissident republican groups now have access to new supplies of Semtex explosives and detonators capable of exploding very large bombs," he said.

"The question immediately arises: what are their intentions?

"Are they planning to target the security forces in Northern Ireland, or perhaps in Great Britain?

"I commend the Garda for intercepting this particular cache of explosive - and there is no doubt that this will have helped to save lives.

"But the question also arises: how much more of this Semtex is in the hands of these terrorists - and what are they intending to do with it?

"I would urge the PSNI and Garda to co-operate and try and identify any further stashes of Semtex that may be in the hands of dissident republicans."

It has also emerged that the second man arrested has no known connections to any criminal gang, leading to fears of a new recruitment drive by the dissident republican terror group.

Armed gardai also raided the house of a politician's relative who has close ties to one of the men arrested.

Gardai have said it is too early to rule out a link between the ongoing Hutch/Kinahan feud in Dublin's criminal underworld.

Dissident republican Michael Barr (35), who was murdered by the Kinahan cartel as part of the ongoing dispute, had links to the New IRA.

On Friday night heavily armed officers from the Garda's Emergency Response Unit (ERU), an elite branch of the SDU, hard-stopped a car at approximately 6pm.

The dramatic arrests took place near Spring Garden Street, Ballybough on the Dublin's northside.

Residents living in the area were immediately evacuated from their homes.

Two men, aged in their 20s and originally from the north-inner city, were detained.

They had been placed under surveillance by specially trained detectives ahead of the interception.

They are being detained at Clontarf Garda Station in Dublin under Section 30, of the Offences against the State Act.

The Irish Defence Force's bomb disposal unit arrived at the scene shortly before 7pm under a Garda escort, with a large section of the area closed off.

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