Brixton jail fugitive in Dublin court: Terrorist charges in Ireland take priority over suspect's alleged mainland offences

NESSAN QUINLIVAN, the IRA suspect, was remanded in custody when he appeared on firearms charges at the anti-terrorist Special Criminal Court in Dublin last night.

He was accused on four counts of having a revolver and ammunition at the time of his arrest with intent to endanger life and for unlawful purposes. He was remanded to reappear later this month. His lawyer said a bail application would be made later.

No mention was made during the 15-minute proceedings of a Scotland Yard application for his extradition. Mr Quinlivan is wanted in Britain for alleged terrorist offences and his escape from Brixton jail two years ago. The Irish Director of Public Prosecutions has directed that charges against him in Ireland should take priority. A Scotland Yard detective was present at the hearing.

Mr Quinlivan was arrested at a farmhouse near Nenagh, Co Tipperary, on Sunday and brought to Dublin with an armed escort. Supporters mobbed him as he was removed from Nenagh police station.

His arrest is a major boost to the Irish Republic's anti-terrorist efforts. Garda sources said Mr Quinlivan's capture added substance to the pledge by Albert Reynolds, the Irish Prime Minister, that the republic was 'no safe haven' for paramilitaries.

Mr Reynolds said: 'The Irish government have always condemned paramilitary violence and employed all means at their disposal to combat the evils of terrorism.'

The arrest is the latest in a series of successes for the Garda. Royal Ulster Constabulary sources in Northern Ireland were quick to compliment them about a series of recent arms finds across the border.

Garda sources said the arrest followed from a major anti-terrorist operation - codenamed Silo - launched in 1990. Led by detectives from the Emergency Response Unit, the operation has had considerable success in finding IRA arms dumps and breaking up supply routes.

It also identified an IRA engineering unit linked to the bombing campaign on the British mainland. Documents concerning technical details of bomb-making for use in Britain were discovered during a series of raids in Limerick and Dublin.

Surveillance of IRA suspects in Limerick, Tipperary, Cork and Kerry has yielded vital clues about the identity and make-up of IRA units in the area. Dublin security sources say they are convinced that IRA units in south-west Ireland are the core of its so-called Southern Command. The IRA stored the bulk of its Libyan-supplied weaponry in the area. Supplies for the mainland campaign came from there.

Patrick Sheehy, whose fingerprints were found at the Clapham bomb factory in 1988 and who committed suicide in Nenagh in 1991, is suspected of being a key figure in the mainland campaign.

Since 1985, gardai have seized 16,500lbs of explosives, 350,000 rounds of ammunition and almost 2,000 guns; the majority since Silo. The ERU is being expanded from 50- strong to more than 100.

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