By Andrew Bushe and Anne Cadwallader
DUBLIN — Nine suspected dissident republicans are being questioned by gardai after a raid on a house in the northside of Limerick City Monday night.
It is understood the men are suspected of membership of the Continuity IRA and are believed to be from Clare, Tipperary, Limerick and Kildare.
“It is part of an ongoing investigation into dissident republicans,” a Garda spokesman said. “The men are being held at various Garda stations throughout Limerick.”
They have been arrested under section 30 of the Offenses Against the State Act. It allows them to be questioned without charge for up to 72 hours.
The breakaway Continuity IRA faction began launching attacks in 1994. It was the only dissident group that did not call a cease-fire in the wake of the 1998 Omagh bombing, which killed 29 and was claimed by another renegade group the Real IRA.
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Both groups are opposed to the Good Friday agreement and are believed by security forces on both sides of the border to have been cooperating in attacks in Northern Ireland and mainland Britain.
Meanwhile, Sinn Fein minister Martin McGuinness said after meeting the parents of two boys killed by the IRA at Warrington, England, in 1993 that the killings were wrong and should not have happened.
McGuinness spoke after meeting the parents of Tim Parry, 12, and 3-year-old Johnathan Ball, who died when two bombs left in garbage cans tore through Warrington town center on March 20, 1993.
Their parents, Colin and Wendy Parry and Wilf Ball and Marie Comerford, met McGuinness to talk about the progress of the peace process in Warrington, at their request.
“The killing of Johnathan and Tim was wrong. It should not have happened and there is a responsibility on all of us to bring about a lasting peace,” McGuinness said. He declined to say whether he had, on behalf of the IRA, apologized.
After the meeting, Tim Parry’s father, Colin, said it had not made him feel any different about the death of his son, but he was convinced of McGuinness’s sincerity in seeking peace.
A Sinn FTin negotiator, Martin Ferris, said McGuinness’s statement did not mark a shift in party policy.
“We always said that what happened in Warrington was wrong,” he said. “We believed that at the time and the peace process was all about ending violence everywhere” he said.
Also, in Britain, Sinn Fein’s four MPs have finally won the use of facilities at Westminster following a long campaign for republicans to be given the rights and benefits accorded to all other elected representatives.
The facilities were withheld because republicans refuse to take an oath Queen Elizabeth. The Sinn Fein MPs are now expected to share two offices and have access to legal expertise and the extensive research department at Westminster.
Sinn Fein’s four MPs, McGuinness, Gerry Adams, Pat Doherty and Michelle Gildernew, will still be refused salaries.
Gildernew dismissed the idea that this was a concession from the British government.
“This is something which Sinn Fein should have been entitled to as MPs anyway,” she said. “The funding for our office in London, the cost of air fares and accommodation all had to be footed by Sinn Fein while the expenses of every other MP were granted as of right.”