It is hugely embarrassing for an organisation styled as the New IRA to get caught by the oldest play in the spooks’ handbook.
‘Plant an agent’ and ‘bug a house’ are well-worn tactics used by the security services in Northern Ireland for decades.
Yet lessons clearly have not been learned by New IRA leaders, who see themselves in grand terms as the latest incarnation of the Provos. The MI5 covert operation which has resulted in eight suspected dissident chiefs facing terror charges is a hammer blow to the gang.
Details of the recordings, that were circulating in media and legal circles before any of them had appeared in court, are even more devastating.
They paint the New IRA as utterly hopeless, Monty Python-esque, with members bickering among each other and moaning about everything from a lack of weapons to public support.
The conversations were taped at terror summits held earlier this year at accommodation in Co Tyrone which had been rented for the weekend.
An agent who had infiltrated the group was trusted with the key task of organising the meetings despite the New IRA being informed years ago of suspicions about his background. He sourced the properties online and left glowing reviews afterwards — hardly the actions of a revolutionary mastermind.
Last Wednesday this individual disappeared from his home. Twenty-four hours later nine alleged New IRA chiefs were in custody.
The charges that followed have caused irreparable damage to the organisation. The New IRA will not admit it, but it is effectively finished in its current form.
It had been floundering on the ropes since it murdered writer Lyra McKee in Derry last year. Operation Arbacia is the knock-out blow. Its remaining members will try and regroup, and they will attempt further attacks on police in a bid to stay relevant, but even the most dedicated will know that the game is up.
Eight alleged senior members, including the suspected New IRA chief-of-staff, are now behind bars facing years in prison if convicted. Last night a ninth person was also facing charges.
Outside of their family and friends they will be forgotten about in the nationalist areas of Northern Ireland they claim to protect, but in which they have zero support.
The uncomfortable reality is that the New IRA has been brought to its knees, not by the military might of the British, but by the big mouths of its leaders.
They were trapped by the oldest trick in the book.