Police find third weapons haul in crackdown on dissident violence

Security forces in Northern Ireland made their third recent significant arms find at the weekend as they stepped up operations intended to halt a surge in activity by dissident republican groups. The Police Service warned, however, that splinter groups continue to carry out surveillance on its officers with the intention of killing them.



Three men have been charged with terrorist offences after the seizure of guns and ammunition. The suspects, aged 34, 35 and 39, were arrested on Friday after police stopped a vehicle in south Armagh, close to the Irish border. A significant amount of guns and ammunition was found inside the vehicle, and in subsequent searches elsewhere in south Armagh over the weekend.

Officers have charged the men with possession of firearms with intent to endanger life, preparing to commit an act of terrorism and possession of items likely to be of use to terrorists.

A high state of alert is being maintained, with increased roadblocks, searches and arrests, particularly in border areas. Easter is the most revered date in the republican calendar, and the suspicion is that dissidents have ambitions to mark it in a violent fashion.

The Queen is due to visit Dublin next month, while the campaign is already under way for elections to the Belfast Assembly on 5 May. The dissidents are assumed to be hopeful of extracting publicity through their reaction to these events.

Activities of the violent breakaway groups have not diminished in the wake of the recent killing of police constable Ronan Kerr in County Tyrone and an abortive attempt to deliver a large van bomb to an unknown target.

But the security forces have had their successes, making a large-scale arms find near Coalisland, Co Tyrone, in the wake of the constable's murder. A man has appeared in court charged with possessing explosives, firearms and articles likely to be of use to terrorists.

At the weekend two caches of terrorist material were uncovered in border areas, with three men arrested following co-ordinated police activity both north and south. Material recovered included a substantial number of machine guns, rifles and handguns, together with ammunition.

Explaining the extra security activity, a police spokesman in Belfast said: "We are taking these steps to keep communities and officers safe. We would not do this unless it was not absolutely necessary to protect life."



Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Arts and Entertainment
tvPoldark, TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Cassetteboy's latest video is called Emperor's New Clothes rap
videoThe political parody genius duo strike again with new video
Arts and Entertainment
Louis Theroux: By Reason of Insanity takes him behind the bars again
tvBy Reason of Insanity, TV review
News
Lois Pryce... Life Without a Postcode. Lois lives on a boat with her husband.. Registering to vote in the election has prooved to be very difficult without a fixed residential post code. (David Sandison)
newsHow living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor
How to make your own Easter egg: Willie Harcourt-Cooze shares his chocolate recipes

How to make your own Easter egg

Willie Harcourt-Cooze talks about his love affair with 'cacao' - and creates an Easter egg especially for The Independent on Sunday
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef declares barbecue season open with his twist on a tradtional Easter Sunday lamb lunch

Bill Granger's twist on Easter Sunday lunch

Next weekend, our chef plans to return to his Aussie roots by firing up the barbecue
Joe Marler: 'It's the way I think the game should be played'

Joe Marler: 'It's the way I think the game should be played'

The England prop relives the highs and lows of last Saturday's remarkable afternoon of Six Nations rugby
Cricket World Cup 2015: Has the success of the tournament spelt the end for Test matches?

Cricket World Cup 2015

Has the success of the tournament spelt the end for Test matches?
The Last Word: Justin Gatlin knows the price of everything, the value of nothing

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Justin Gatlin knows the price of everything, the value of nothing