Ciaran Maxwell: Top officer praises vital role played by public
Ciaran Maxwell was an "extremely dangerous individual" whose campaign of terror was only thwarted thanks to the vigilance of members of the public, a senior PSNI officer has said.
Assistant Chief Constable Stephen Martin, head of the PSNI Crime Operations Department, said the Larne dissident republican bombmaker's hides "amount to one of the most significant seizures of munitions in recent years in Northern Ireland".
- DNA trail led to Ciaran Maxwell and secured conviction
- 18 years for bomb-making dissident who joined Army
He added: "It is obvious that these materials and munitions were sourced, gathered and constructed over significant periods of time which demonstrates Ciaran Maxwell's determination and committed planning.
"These items are designed to cause damage, serious injury and to kill.
"As a result of these finds, and the arrest and sentencing of Ciaran Maxwell, there is no doubt in my mind that Northern Ireland and England are safer places to live.
"I would very much like to thank my police colleagues in Great Britain for their partnership and professionalism in this case.
"I also want to thank the members of the public who first alerted police to the hides in both Carnfunnock and Capanagh.
"Without them acting on their suspicions Maxwell may not have been caught. This case clearly demonstrates the vital role communities have in support of their police service."
DUP East Antrim MLA Gordon Lyons welcomed Maxwell's sentence and said the actions of the PSNI had "undoubtedly saved lives".
He added: "It is important that people who think this type of activity is appropriate are prevented from exploiting the current political vacuum and it is imperative that those holding up the formation of an Executive get back around the table to provide stability."
Ulster Unionist East Antrim MLA John Stewart said: "In many ways this was a bizarre and highly unusual case. But what is crystal clear is that if Maxwell had been more successful in his parallel terrorist campaign, many many lives would have been lost."