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Shooting probe told of Real IRA blast fears

By Mark O'Regan

Published 10/09/2015

Police in the Republic believed an IRA gang may have been planning a bomb attack aimed at derailing the peace process on the day one of their members, Ronan MacLochlainn, was shot dead.

The Real IRA activist, from Dublin, was killed by members of the Garda's emergency response unit during a botched attempt by a six-man gang to hold up a Securicor van, near Ashford in Co Wicklow on May 1, 1998.

The van was transporting around IR£300,000 in cash from Wicklow to Dublin.

MacLochlainn was part of a Real IRA gang which was under police surveillance.

On the second day of public hearings by the MacLochlainn Inquiry in Dublin yesterday, former Assistant Commissioner Dermot Jennings said gardai were not following MacLochlainn that day, and were instead following Paschal Burke, a convicted member of the Provisional IRA.

He said it had become clear to them that Burke had defected to the Real IRA. "The aim of this new organisation was to wreck the peace process," he said.

"That was clear in some of their many attempted, and some successful, bombings that they carried out. In the mind of this group, McGuinness and Adams were traitors to what they called 'the cause'."

He told the inquiry the "main thrust" of the group's activities were bombs. He said that these bombs were "made for one reason - that's to kill and murder".

He told the government inquiry that gardai had no specific information on any crimes being planned, and "didn't know what was going to happen" on the day in question, so they had to "build the pieces through association".

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