Belfast Telegraph

Irish Justice Minister creates new terrorism offences to tackle dissident republicans

Biggest crackdown since Omagh bomb

By Claire Cromie and Tom Brady

Three new terrorism offences are being created in the Republic of Ireland to combat dissident terrorists.

Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald published details of the new laws on Tuesday afternoon.

The move represents the most significant crackdown on home-grown terrorism by the Irish government since the highly successful package of measures introduced in the wake of the 1998 Omagh bombing.

That legislation led to the leader of the group responsible for the Omagh blast, Real IRA chief Michael McKevitt, being jailed for 20 years for the new offence of directing terrorism.

Mrs Fitzgerald has now secured Government approval to create three further offences, which will each carry a maximum sentence, if convicted on indictment, of ten years in jail and a substantial fine.

The proposed new offences are public provocation to commit a terrorist offence, recruitment for terrorism and training for terrorism. They will carry sentences of up to 10 years imprisonment.

Already this year, gardai seized an estimated €10m in partially forged banknotes in April, detected a large home-made bomb in Co Louth, which was destined for use against a security target in Northern Ireland, in May, and disrupted a Real IRA gun attack in Tallaght, Co Dublin, in June.

The provocation offence will apply to anyone who distributes or communicates a message to the public, with the intention of encouraging, directly or indirectly, a terrorist activity.

This would apply to dissident leaders who use public orations or interviews to incite others to break the law on behalf of groups like the New IRA Alliance, which incorporates the Real IRA; the Continuity IRA and OnH.

The second measure focuses on recruiting or attempting to recruit another to take part in terrorist activity or other offences contained in the post-Omagh Offences Against the State (Amendment) Act 1998.

The third offence involves providing instruction or training in the skills of making or using firearms or explosives, nuclear material, biological, chemical or prohibited weapons, knowing that the skills are intended to be used for the purpose of terrorist activity.

It also covers training in techniques or methods for terrorist use.

The minister said: "We stand with our European colleagues in doing everything in our power to ensure that there are no gaps in our law that can be exploited by those who would inflict terror and mayhem on innocent people at home or abroad.

"There can be no hiding place in democratic society for those who encourage, recruit or train others to carry out acts of terrorism and we must never relent in our determination to use all resources at our disposal to root them out."

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