Four remanded over mortar bomb find
Four men have been remanded in custody after a mortar bomb was seized during a sting operation on a suspected Real IRA gang.
Army experts worked in freezing temperatures to make safe the improvised grenade launcher in a bomb disposal operation which shut the M1 motorway near the border with Northern Ireland for several hours.
Dalton McKevitt and Niall Farrell, from Dundalk, Co Louth, appeared alongside Patrick Tierney and Patrick Gordon, from Armagh, at Dublin's Special Criminal Court on Friday.
The rocket launcher was found in a car which gardai stopped and searched as it travelled north on the M1 motorway between junction 16 and junction 17 near Dundalk, Co Louth at 9.30pm. It was only a few miles from the border when it was intercepted by the elite armed Garda Emergency Response Unit.
McKevitt, of Woodbury Gardens, Dundalk, was charged at Balbriggan Garda Station, north Dublin. He is understood to be a distant relative of convicted Real IRA leader Michael McKevitt. The 35-year-old said nothing after being charged with membership of the Real IRA and the unlawful possession of an improvised mortar launcher with a mortar at Dromiskin.
Farrell, of Clos Brid, Dundalk, Co Louth, was charged at Santry Garda Station, north Dublin and also made no reply. The 34-year-old is accused of being a member of the Real IRA and unlawfully possessing a mortar launcher at the same location.
Gordon, of Newtownhamilton Road, Armagh, Co Armagh, was charged with unlawfully possessing a mortar launcher with a mortar at a house on Commons Road, Dromiskin, Co Louth. After being charged, the 22-year-old told gardai: "I am not a member of the IRA and I was only in the car because I was scared."
Dublin's three-judge non-jury Special Criminal Court heard Tierney, of Drumarg Park, Armagh, Co Armagh, was charged with possession of a mortar launcher with a mortar, again at Dromiskin. The 25-year-old made no reply after being cautioned.
All four men were remanded in custody to appear before the court again on Wednesday, when bail applications are expected to be made.
The improvised mortar and launch tube, described as viable, was made safe by the Army bomb squad and the motorway was closed for several hours. The Defence Forces said it took more than four hours at temperatures as low as minus 6C to make the device safe. The sting operation was carried out by the Garda Special Detective Unit, local officers and the elite armed Emergency Response Unit.