Two prominent dissident republicans, including the son of the murdered gunman Dominic "Mad Dog" McGlinchey, have been arrested by police over the killing of two young British soldiers. Declan McGlinchey was arrested along with Colin Duffy, a former prisoner who later left the IRA, in connection with the shooting of the Sappers Mark Quinsey, 23, and Patrick Azimkar, 21, outside the Massereene Barracks in Antrim.
Mr McGlinchey, 32, was seized by armed police at his home in the Bellaghy district of Londonderry at the weekend. Groups of youths had earlier attacked police with petrol bombs and bricks when they came to arrest 41-year-old Mr Duffy in Lurgan.
Mr McGlinchey belongs to a hardline republican family. He was present when his father, who left the Provisional IRA to take command of the Irish National Liberation Army (INLA), was killed by rival republicans in 1994.
His mother, Mary, also said to be a member of the INLA, was another victim of the internecine feud and was killed in 1987 as she bathed two of her sons at the family home in Dundalk. Dominic McGlinchey acquired his nickname of "Mad Dog" after being accused of involvement in up to 30 killings during the Troubles. After escaping several assassination attempts, he was finally killed in an ambush in the town of Drogheda, when he was cornered in a phone booth and shot 14 times. Declan, who was then 16, was with him at the time, but was not injured.
The Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) refused to confirm or deny at the time that Mr Duffy was a suspect in the investigation into the killings of the soldiers. Mr Duffy was taken away by police from his home in Lurgan at 7.35am yesterday, dressed in a forensic suit, while a search was carried out of the house. Police are also questioning a youth, 17, and a former Sinn Fein councillor, 37, over the killing of PC Stephen Carroll, 48, at Craigavon last Monday night.
Police recovered an AK-47 rifle during searches in Lurgan, as well as finding a burnt-out green Vauxhall Cavalier car that is believed to have been used in the killings of the two soldiers. A man aged 37 and a woman aged 30 were arrested in relation to the rifle.
The PSNI Chief Constable, Sir Hugh Orde, said that there were about 300 dissident republicans who were trying to destroy the Northern Ireland peace process, but that the security forces had identified many of them.
"In the past 18 months or so, there have been at least 25 attempts by dissident terrorists to kill officers on and off duty," he said. "But we must put this into perspective. These groups are small in number. The Real and Continuity IRA are disrupted, infiltrated and disorganised." He added: "They are also very dangerous, like any cornered animal that is in its death throes."