Belfast Telegraph

Irish police swoop on suspected extortion racket by dissidents

By Tom Brady and Fergus Black

Eight men suspected of being linked to an emerging new dissident republican terror group have been arrested in a swoop by detectives in the Republic.

They were arrested during a suspected attempt to extort money from a businessman at a commercial premises in west Dublin.

The men, who range in ages from their mid-20s to 50, are all suspected of being members of the New IRA alliance.

They were arrested by gardai from the Special Detective Unit and national Garda units as part of their "ongoing investigations into dissident republican activity" in the midday swoop on premises in Clondalkin, west Dublin.

Gardai suspect that the men were involved in an extortion racket and may have been attempting to "shake down" the businessman for money when officers arrived.

No firearms or explosives were recovered in the follow-up search and all eight suspects are being held at various Garda stations in Dublin under Section 30 of the Offences Against the State Act.

The new terror group has emerged as the latest big threat to security on both sides of the border and the group is believed to be heavily involved in extortion rackets in an attempt to raise money to finance a terror campaign in Northern Ireland.

Included in the recent alliance is the Derry section of the Real IRA and Republican Action Against Drugs.

The group also includes a number of former Provisional IRA members who have previously worked closely with the Real IRA.

The alliance has been responsible for several attacks on members of other groups, and a leader of the group is believed to have ordered the pub car park hit on dissident terrorist Peter Butterly in Gormanston, Co Meath, earlier this month.

It was also responsible for the murder of Northern Ireland prison officer David Black near Lurgan last October and for a foiled mortar bomb attack in Derry in early March.

Some of its members are suspected of being responsible for the kneecapping of a man in Saggart, Co Dublin, soon after Christmas. Recent threats which were made against Northern Ireland's Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness are also thought to have come from members of the New IRA alliance, which has a base in Derry.

Earlier this month, Mr McGuinness was warned by police that dissident republicans had issued a death threat against him.

The "real and active" threat was believed to have been linked to his condemnation of the foiled mortar bomb attack by dissidents on a police station. Mr McGuinness's home was also paint-bombed.

Belfast Telegraph


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