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Finds show not all Provisional's arms put beyond use

Allison Morris

WHILE the arms discovered by gardaí in Co Monaghan are believed to be from a Provisional IRA cache it is not the first time that weapons belonging to the organisation have been recovered since decommissioning.

A recent monitoring report, commissioned by Secretary of State Theresa Villiers following the murder of Short Strand man Kevin McGuigan, claimed that some members of the PIRA had retained weapons.

"A small number (of IRA members) are involved in the storage of remaining weaponry in order to prevent its loss to DRs (dissident republicans)", the three person panel stated.

However, there have been a number of weapons finds that show a portion of the IRA's arsenal beyond that are in the hands of dissidents and have been used in attacks on security forces.

Prior to the decommissioning the PIRA is estimated to have had around 650 AK47s still in its possession.

High profile former IRA men, who opposed the political direction of the mainstream movement, walked away from the Provisionals in 1997 to form the Real IRA and retained some weapons stored in dumps south of the border.

Other veteran republicans from Tyrone and Fermanagh, who remained with the mainstream movement until 2005 leaving over opposition to decommissioning, are believed to have retained a significant haul of weapons much of which remains unaccounted for.

The recovery of half a kilo of Semtex in a house in west Belfast in September from a shipment provided by Colonel Gadaffi evidence that not all the PIRA arsenal was put beyond use as previously claimed.

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