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Seized arms were stolen from Provos by dissidents - The Irish News
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Seized arms were stolen from Provos by dissidents

Garda searching an area in Scotstown Co Monaghan where weapons and explosive have been recovered. Picture by Philip Fitzpatrick

WEAPONS discovered less than half a mile from the border in Co Monaghan are believed to be Provisional IRA weapons that had been seized by dissidents prior to decommissioning.

The haul - that includes mortars and AK47s - discovered in Scotstown yesterday was under the control of the group calling itself the 'IRA'.

Weapons and explosive devices were uncovered by gardaí as part of an investigation into dissident republican activity in the border region.

A number of firearms, including AK-47 assault rifles, mortars, detonators, detonating cord and other component parts of Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs), were discovered.

The intelligence-led search was linked to a wider operation into dissident activity along the border.

The weapons were discovered in a dump just 10 minutes from Aghalissabeagh.

A 43-year-old man was arrested in the Scotstown area on November 25 and appeared before a special sitting of the Special Criminal Court on Saturday.

Jim Smyth, with an address in Aghalissabeagh, Scotstown, has been charged with IRA membership.

The 43-year-old has been charged with membership of an unlawful organisation, styling itself the Irish Republican Army and remanded in custody until today when a bail application is expected to be heard.

Sources say the Provisional IRA weapons had been seized by members of the breakaway Real IRA before decommissioning but had transferred when that group merged with Republican Action Against Drugs and independent republicans from Fermanagh and Tyrone in 2012 to form the group calling itself the 'IRA'.

The group pulled resources and weapons that had been stashed before the IRA decommissioned its vast arsenal in 2005.

It is thought that the leadership of the PIRA in Fermanagh and Tyrone were bitterly opposed to decommissioning and refused to hand over much of their weaponry.

Hardline republicans in south Armagh, who were also opposed to the peace strategy from prior to the Good Friday Agreement, retained weapons that have since been used in attacks on security forces.

A significant number of those weapons are now under the control of the new IRA's leadership.

Gardaí say the find represents a major blow to dissidents operating along the border.

A man who had moved between several republican groups before joining the new merger group is being blamed by republicans at the border for tipping off garda detectives about the whereabouts of the weapons.

While the AK47s are thought to be part of an old shipment they were in working order. The mortars are thought to be homemade improvised devices.

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