Category: Archive

8 held after Republican S.F. meeting

February 16, 2011

By Staff Reporter

By Andrew Bushe

DUBLIN — Eight men are being questioned by Garda in swoops following the Republican Sinn Fein splinter group’s annual conference, held in Drogheda at the weekend.

The men, three from Northern Ireland and five from the Republic, are being held for questioning about suspected paramilitary activities. Among those taken in was the party’s only elected politician, Donegal councilor Joe O’Neill, Eamonn Larkin, from South Armagh, as well as Joe Malone, from Westmeath, Des Long, the party vice president, who is from Limerick, and Rory Og O Bradaigh, the son of the party president, long-time republican Ruairi O Bradaigh, who himself was elected to the Dail on an abstentionist ticket in 1957. O Bradaigh Sr. has served several jail sentences for paramilitary activity.

They were arrested under Section 30 of the Offenses Against the State anti-terrorist laws, which were amended after the Omagh bombing in August.

Suspects can be held for four days without charge.

Republican Sinn Fein split with the mainstream Sinn Fein party in 1986 when it objected to a decision to allow members elected to the Republic’s parliament to take their seats.

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Police believe Republican Sinn Fein’s military wing is the hardline Continuity IRA — the only republican paramilitary group not to have declared a cease-fire. Republican Sinn Fein denies this.

CIRA strongly opposes the peace process and has claimed responsibility for a number of bombing attacks earlier this year.

Security sources said the eight men were being questioned about their suspected membership in CIRA and their possible involvement in other subversive activities.

The men were questioned in Kells, Navan and Trim in County Meath.

In a statement, the republican group the 32 County Sovereignty Committee, which is aligned with the so-called Real IRA, whose members planted the bomb in Omagh that killed 29, said the arrests were "clearly designed to suppress debate and criticism of the Stormont deal."

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