Sinn Fein has angrily rejected claims the Provisional IRA was responsible for placing two mortar-type weapons close to the Irish border.
Dismissing a report in the Sunday Independent yesterday as “ludicrous”, Newry and Armagh MP Conor Murphy said last week’s security alert was the work of “unrepresentative militarist factions” – not the mainstream republican movement.
The discovery of the device – which was pointing upright and is believed to have been capable of bringing down a police helicopter – led to a massive clearance operation involving soldiers with sniffer dogs over several days.
Since then, it has been suspected that republican dissidents, who have been responsible for the murders of two soldiers, two police officers and a prison guard in recent years, had intended to lure police officers into an ambush.
However, a report in this week’s Sunday Independent claimed the mortars were connected with a recent warning issued to the PSNI to stop disrupting IRA diesel smuggling rackets along the border.
According to the controversial article, the warning was a message for the PSNI to stay out of south Armagh “in anticipation of police raids arising from the murders of Detective Garda Adrian Donohoe and young south Armagh man Paul Quinn”.
Mr Quinn was beaten to death in October 2007 and his murder is widely believed to have been at the hands of Provisional IRA members.
The report is based on information said to be from Garda sources.
Mr Murphy said the newspaper report was “based purely on fantasy” and contained “utterly outlandish” allegations.
“Fifteen years after the signing of the Good Friday Agreement and almost 20 years after the first IRA ceasefire such allegations are ludicrous.
“However, by publishing such baseless articles, the Sunday Independent is ignoring the sinister agendas at work behind them and the danger of damaging a hard won peace.”