By Andrew Bushe
DUBLIN — Eight men and two women from Armagh and Louth are being questioned about last year’s Real IRA bombing atrocity in Omagh after a series of Garda and RUC raids on both sides of the border this week.
The arrests began with dawn swoops on homes in the Jonesborough area of Armagh and in housing estates in Dundalk, Co. Louth, on Sunday that were coordinated by teams of detectives who have been cooperating closely since the blast ripped through the market town last Aug. 13.
The Real IRA dissident group opposed to the peace process claimed responsibility for the car bombing, which left 29 people dead and more than 250 injured.
Though the Real IRA called a cease-fire in the wake of the bombing, draconian anti-terrorist laws were quickly passed by the parliaments in Dublin and London.
The six arrested by Garda, none of whom were identified, were held under Section 30 of the amended Offenses Against the State Act, which allows them to be questioned for up to 72 hours before being either charged or released.
Never miss an issue of The Irish Echo
Subscribe to one of our great value packages.
Four of the men arrested were taken to the Omagh investigation
headquarters in Monaghan Garda station and the other two are being
detained in Cavan.
Three of the men were released without charge late Monday and the other three were brought to a special court sitting in Carrickmacross to extend their periods of detention.
The Gardai also arrested two women and another man in the Dundalk area on Monday. One of the women detained is the wife of a man already being questioned.
In Northern Ireland, the RUC came under attack when it moved in to arrest four men in the Jonesborough area of South Armagh on Sunday.
Four RUC men suffered minor injuries when a crowd of about 15 — apparently returning from a party — threw beer cans, glasses and stones and attacked them with hurley sticks.
Despite many arrests since Omagh explosion, only one man, Colm Murphy, 46, who has a Dundalk address but is from Armagh, has been charged in connection with the bombing.
He was accused at the Special Criminal Court in Dublin of conspiracy to cause an explosion and membership of an illegal organization.