Explosives and chemicals found in Co Antrim dissident probe

Police carrying out searches at Larne Town Park. Picture by Mal McCann
Brendan Hughes

EXPLOSIVE devices and chemicals for bomb-making were among a "significant amount of terrorist material" found during a fortnight of searches in Co Antrim, police have said.

Ammunition and a gun were also found in searches across 12 separate locations in Larne in a joint operation between the PSNI and the Metropolitan Police.

The recent searches follow the arrest on August 24 of Royal Marine Ciarán Maxwell in connection with dissident republicanism.

The operation is connected to finds earlier this year in both Carnfunnock Country Park and Capanagh Forest in Larne.

The 30-year-old, originally from Larne, is accused of terror, fraud and drug offences.

He has denied the fraud and drug offences and will appear again in court on September 19 in relation to all charges.

PSNI assistant chief constable Will Kerr thanked the "community of Larne for their patience" during the searches, which began on August 24.

"Police have searched 12 separate locations and recovered a significant amount of terrorist material including explosive devices, component parts for explosives, chemicals for use in bomb making, ammunition and a firearm," he said.

"The searches were part of a joint, ongoing, police operation between PSNI and the Metropolitan Police Service in London."

He added: "I am aware of the disruption this has caused to local residents and am extremely grateful for their cooperation and understanding.

"However, as I am sure the people living in Larne will understand, we will take no chances where their safety is concerned and, as a result of the significant terrorist material recovered, I am confident that the area, and Northern Ireland in general, is safer as a result. "

Alliance East Antrim MLA Stewart Dickson praised police for the operation.

"This was a major find and the police are to be congratulated on a job well done," he said.

"With the link to the earlier finds, there can be no doubt the material was to be used by dissident republican terrorists and therefore this discovery will have saved many from injury or even worse."

"It is incredibly disappointing some in our society are still actively working to disrupt the progress Northern Ireland has made and shows we must do all we can to not give in to them."

DUP East Antrim MLA Gordon Lyons also praised police, saying it "once again proved that the PSNI are determined and committed to halting this type of activity".

"Over the course of these searches there has been considerable disruption to the local community and I want to thank them for their patience while searches were carried out," he said.

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