Ten arrests as ‘significant’ operation targets New IRA

Northern Ireland Affairs Committee chair Simon Hoare has hailed the arrests of reported ‘top-tier’ New IRA suspects as a “further step towards peace and stability” in Northern Ireland.

Aug 24, 2020
By Paul Jacques
Simon Hoare

Ten people – eight men and two women – were arrested last week by the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) under the Terrorism Act, which Crime Operations Assistant Chief Constable Barbara Gray said “was part of a significant and carefully planned operation called Arbacia”.

She added: “This is an ongoing and coordinated investigation into the activities of the New IRA and involves partners such as MI5, Police Scotland, An Garda Síochána and the Metropolitan Police Service.

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

“And I can now confirm a ninth person has been charged with four terrorist offences.”

Ms Gray said the offences include:

  • Directing terrorism;
  • Preparatory acts of terrorism;
  • Membership of a proscribed organisation;
  • Conspiracy to possess explosives with intent to endanger life; and
  • Conspiracy to possess ammunition with intent to endanger life.

Mr Hoare said: “If confirmed, the arrests of high-ranking New IRA members would indeed be a further step towards peace and stability in Northern Ireland.

“The nature of the operation, involving the Gardaí, MI5 and PSNI, is a sign of the mutually held desire to rid the island of Ireland of paramilitary groups. It also highlights the importance of cross-border cooperation in combating them.

“Tackling cross-border violence and smuggling, particularly after Brexit, is an issue that the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee is monitoring closely.

“The gains of the Good Friday Agreement were hard won but have been unequivocally for the good of people living in Northern Ireland. All parties should be, and clearly are, working together to ensure that those gains are not reversed.”

Ms Gray added: “This investigation did not start last week and it will not end this week.

“It is a longer-term investigation that will look into every aspect of the activities of the New IRA in its entirety.”

She said keeping the public safe was “at the heart of this operation”.

“Previous investigations have shown time and time again the New IRA does not care who it hurts or what it destroys,” said Ms Gray.

“They do not care about the communities they come from – they care for no one. They are reckless, manipulative and they exploit.

“We have seen how they send young people onto the streets, how they don’t care if kids are likely to find guns and explosives where they play.

“It’s 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 that effort

“Policing with the community is at the heart of what we do, we are committed to working with communities, towards meaningful change.”

Nine of the arrests were made in Derry/Londonderry, Armah and Tyrone. The PSNI said the suspects were thought to be high-ranking members of the New IRA. An Garda Síochána carried out six searches at locations in Dublin, Laois, Cork and Kerry as part of the operation.

A further arrest was made at Heathrow when detectives from the PSNI’s Terrorism Investigation Unit detained a 62-year-old man from Scotland, who has since been brought to Northern Ireland. Ms Gray said following the arrest, officers from Police Scotland searched a property in Edinburgh.

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