A mortar tube and a “substantial” quantity of ammunition have been discovered during search near the border between Ireland and Northern Ireland, police said.
As part of ongoing investigations targeting the activities of dissident Irish Republican groups, Gardaí (Irish police) on Friday, February 1 commenced a search operation on lands near Omeath in County Louth, just south of the border with Northern Ireland, a Garda statement said.
“During the searches to date Gardaí have recovered a substantial quantity of ammunition of varied calibre along with a mortar tube,” the statement said. “Army EOD [Explosive Ordnance Disposal] are currently assisting at the site and a cordon is currently in place. The search is expected to continue into tomorrow.”
The recovered items will be examined by Garda ballistics experts.
No arrests have been made in the operation led by members of the Garda Special Detective and Emergency Response Units.
Irish national broadcaster RTÉ reported the haul was described as “significant.”
The search is expected to continue into Saturday.
The discovery comes less than a fortnight after a car bomb exploded outside a courthouse in the the city of Derry in the northwest of Northern Ireland. Dissident Irish republican group the New IRA was blamed for that attack.
The 1998 Good Friday or Belfast Agreement ended what is known as The Troubles, three decades of violence in Northern Ireland beginning in the late 1960s in which more than 3,500 people were killed, the majority by predominantly Catholic Irish republicans who want the reunification of Ireland, but also by Protestant loyalists who want Northern Ireland to remain part of the United Kingdom, as well as the security forces.
The violence also spilled over into Ireland, the United Kingdom mainland, and Europe.
Some paramilitary actors oppose the peace process that sprang from the agreement, and there have been sporadic violent incidents since.
Police in Northern Ireland and Ireland have said that a return to a hard border on the island after Brexit could result in an increase in attacks by militant groups.
The largest dissident Irish republican paramilitary group is known as the New IRA. It was formed in 2012 after a merger of several smaller groups with the Real IRA.