Explosives, firearms and a “sizeable” quantity of ammunition have been discovered during search near the border between Ireland and Northern Ireland, police said.
The February 28 searches on lands near Omeath in County Louth were part of a follow-up operation targeting the activities of dissident Irish republican groups after Gardaí (Irish police) found a mortar tube and a “substantial” quantity of ammunition in the area on February 1.
“During the operation, Gardaí recovered a quantity of explosives, two firearms and a sizeable quantity of ammunition of various calibres,” a Garda statement said.
“An Explosive Ordinance Disposal unit of the Irish Defence Forces later visited the site and some of the material was later destroyed by a controlled explosion,” it said, adding that investigations are ongoing there would be no further comment for operational reasons.
The search operations come after a car bomb exploded outside a courthouse in the the city of Derry in the northwest of Northern Ireland in January. 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.