Belfast Telegraph

Ex-IRA pair are arrested in Spain over tobacco smuggling probe

By Jim Cusack

A suspected tobacco smuggler from Co Antrim and two former IRA members whose active service unit went on a killing spree around Europe have been arrested in Spain.

It is understood they were detained as part of a major Spanish police operation against tobacco smuggling linked to south Armagh.

Those arrested include husband and wife, Donna Maguire and Leonard 'Bap' Hardy, who served prison sentences in Holland and Germany for their parts in IRA attacks on the continent in the late 1980s.

Hardy (54) and Maguire (57) are married with four children and live in the Mount Pleasant area of Dundalk.

Sources said the former convent girl from Newry, once described as the most dangerous woman in Europe, no longer has any involvement in republican politics.

It is understood one of the other Irish nationals arrested in operations across Murcia, Alicante and Gran Canaria at the start of last week, is a Co Antrim man who has been living in the north Louth area in recent years.

He was previously questioned over a major cigarette smuggling operation after gardai and customs stopped a lorry in Co Louth in September 2013. The lorry was found to contain cigarettes with a retail value of £3.4m.

It is understood the latest arrests were made after a major investigation into smuggling and money laundering by the Spanish Policia Nacional.

It is understood Hardy and Maguire were arrested at an apartment in Malaga on Tuesday.

She was later released without charge.

Hardy received a six-year sentence in Germany in 2006, after admitting his role in a failed IRA bomb attack on a British Army barracks at Osnabruck in August 1989. He walked free because the offence happened before 1998.

Maguire received a nine-year sentence in Germany in 1995 after being found guilty of attempted murder and explosive offences over the same attack.

Hardy was one of around 100 former on-the-run republicans who received letters of comfort from the Government.

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