Biggest NI arms haul in a decade hits ‘kill capacity’ of crime gang

The biggest armaments seizure for a decade in Northern Ireland has curbed the “killer capacity” of the criminal gang behind the haul in a big way, according to the DUP MLA for the area.

Friday, 21st May 2021, 5:58 pm
The full cache of guns

The weapons were seized thanks to the work of the National Crime Agency (NCA), often likened to the UK’s version of the FBI, and comprised 11 firearms in total, ranging from pistols to a Kalashnikov-style assault rifle.

The cache was found hidden in the ground in the Jerrettspass townland to the north of Newry.

They were described as being in good condition and ready to use.

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The weapons were found in two waterproof holdalls which had been buried.

They had magazines attached and a quantity of ammunition was recovered.

The search continued into Thursday night with the assistance of PSNI search specialists and equipment, and yesterday the NCA revealed details of the find, saying it was “the most significant firearms find in Northern Ireland in a decade”.

David Cunningham, NCA branch commander, said: “Our investigation continues, part of which will include a detailed forensic examination to identify those who have handled the weapons and to determine their previous use.

“We are convinced that this seizure will prevent future loss of life.”

Meanwhile Newry & Armagh DUP Assemblyman William Irwin said: “This very clearly shows the criminality that is bubbling under the surface in Northern Ireland and the resources at the disposal of organised criminals... it certainly proves just how vital an organisation the National Crime Agency is and how important its role is in Northern Ireland.”

He pointed out that several years ago, when the NCA was being set up, Sinn Fein and the SDLP had blocked it from operating in the Province, citing concerns about the agency’s accountability.

Mr Irwin said “there can be no doubt as the necessity of this important UK anti-crime agency operating deeply in Northern Ireland” because this operation has served as a showcase for its power to “remove killer capacity from organised crime”.