Maverick unit opposes change

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The Independent Online
IRA units in south Munster who were last night blamed for a post office van raid in which a police officer was killed are understood to have always been strongly opposed to any ceasefire.

Gardai believe they enjoyed considerable autonomy within the organisation. They have long played a leading role in raising the estimated IRpounds 5m it takes to run the IRA annually.

Late last year, Kerry IRA leaders were reportedly reprimanded for moving weapons without approval. A senior IRA official was reportedly sent toimpose discipline. Earlier this week, security reports spoke of a sudden increase in the level of contacts between known IRA logistics personnel who were under surveillance.

Munster IRA units were blamed for an abortive robbery in Charleville, Co Cork, in December. Two years ago at Kilmallock, 12 miles from Adare, they were blamed for another post office armed robbery.

In the 1980s they carried out the then biggest-ever Irish cash robbery when they closed a road to traffic before robbing IRpounds 500,000 from a security van.

It emerged yesterday that, only a month ago, the dead policeman, Gerry McCabe, had warned former justice minister and Limerick TD (MP) Des O'Malley of the serious security threat in the area, during a three-day Anglo-Irish Inter Parliamentary Group gathering.

"I expressed surprise at the [high] level of security at the event. Gerry McCabe said it was a dangerous area and we cannot take any risks given," said Mr O'Malley. Garda McCabe was the 12th member of the Irish security forces to be killed since 1970, and the first to die on duty since 1985.