Northern Ireland news

Ninth person arrested in 'IRA' investigation

 PSNI Assistant Chief Constable Barbara Gray during a press conference at PSNI Headquarters in Belfast, in relation to Operation Arbacia and its targeting of the New IRA. Picture by Liam McBurney/PA Wire
Rebecca Black, Press Association

A ninth person has been charged with terrorism offences as part of a police crackdown on the dissident republican group, the New IRA.

Eight people have already appeared before Belfast Magistrates Court following 10 arrests as part of Operation Arbacia, while one remains in custody this evening.

PSNI Assistant Chief Constable Barbara Gray described the operation as "significant and carefully planned".

"Last week the Police Service of Northern Ireland arrested 10 people, eight men and two women, under the terrorism act as part of a significant and carefully planned operation called Arbacia," she said.

"This is an ongoing and co-ordinated investigation into activities of the New IRA and involves partners such as MI5, An Garda Siochana, Police Scotland and the Metropolitan Police Service.

"Eight people have been charged with a total of 34 terrorist offences. All have been remanded in custody.

"I can now confirm a ninth person has been charged with four terrorist offences. Overall these offences include directing terrorism, preparatory acts of terrorism, membership of a proscribed organisation, conspiracy of possess explosives with intent to endanger life and conspiracy to possess ammunition with intent to endanger life. These offences speak for themselves."

The New IRA is believed to be responsible for the shooting death of journalist Lyra McKee while she observed a riot in Derry in April 2019.

It is currently believed to be the largest of the dissident republican groups in Northern Ireland, and has been blamed for a number of attacks on police, including a bomb attack in Wattlebridge, Co Fermanagh in August 2019 and five letter bombs found at locations across the Republic and Britain in March 2019.

ACC Gray described Operation Arbacia as a "longer term" probe into "every aspect of the activities of the New IRA in its entirety".

"Keeping the public safe is at the heart of this operation," she said.

"Previous investigations have shown time and time again that we have seen the New IRA does not care who it hurts or what it destroys. They do not care about the communities they come from, they care for no one. They are reckless, they are manipulative and they exploit.

"We have seen how they send young people on to the streets, how they don't care if kids are likely to find guns and explosives where they are playing. It is really disappointing that decades on from the Good Friday Agreement there are still groups who are using and hiding bombs and bullets in residential areas and putting their own agendas above the rights of the community who want to live and thrive in peace.

"Communities are key and have shown their power in coming together to protect each other during a global pandemic. Now is the time to continue the effort, policing with the community is at the heart of what we do, we are committed towards working with communities towards meaningful change."

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