The army have uncovered a sophisticated spying operation on the secret service by the dissident republican group, Oglaigh na Heireann. According to the Belfast Telegraph, members of the organisation planted digital cameras in woodland bordering MI5’s base in Northern Ireland, Palace Barracks.
The army have uncovered a sophisticated spying operation on the secret service by the dissident republican group, Óglaigh na h-Éireann. According to the Belfast Telegraph, members of the organisation planted digital cameras in woodland bordering MI5’s base in Northern Ireland, Palace Barracks.
The paper quotes a security source as saying:
“There were four cameras hidden in the trees at the back of Palace Barracks which covered all angles of the base.
“That is why all the perfectly healthy trees were chopped down instead of just erecting the fence. That measure showed how concerned MI5 was by what dissidents were doing and by the atrocity they seemed to be planning.”
A further source says of the group responsible:
“These guys are becoming a more sophisticated paramilitary outfit.”
It is understood that the cameras were found as part of a security review following a car bomb attack on the base in April by members of the Real IRA, using a device constructed by Óglaigh na h-Éireann. The latest developments come after figures indicated there were a reported 49 incidents involving explosive devices in the first eight months of 2010, compared with 22 for the whole of 2009.
In the past week alone:
• An 8 year old discovered a pipe bomb outside his Antrim primary school and carried it into his classroom;
• Two men were shot and injured following a paramilitary shooting in the Ardoyne area of Belfast on Friday evening;
• Thirty families were forced to leave their homes following the discovery of a suspicious device on an estate in Anrtim.
Meanwhile, in August, Conservative MP Patrick Mercer, a former solider and formerly head of the House of Commons sub-committee on counter-terrorism warned that dissidents were planning to attack the Conservative conference in October.
Based on confidential discussions with sources in Northern Ireland, Mr Mercer said:
“Over the last three or four weeks there have been several very determined efforts to kill in Northern Ireland. There are three groups in Northern Ireland which are planning to do something to catapult themselves into the headlines before the party conference season.
“They wish to kill by the end of the month. They have an aspiration to attack targets on the mainland, including the Conservative Party conference.”
Last week, the Director General of MI5, Jonathan Evans, told the Intelligence and Security Committee that the threat posed from dissidents had meant increasing resources devoted to Northern Ireland from 13 per cent to 18 per cent, diverting funds from efforts against Al-Qaeda.
“What was not anticipated … was the way in which the situation in Northern Ireland had deteriorated. The Service had considerably more what we would call priority, that is life-threatening, investigations in Northern Ireland than we do in the rest of Great Britain.”
In a chilling message however, a spokesman for Óglaigh na h-Éireann has previously told the Irish News:
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“There are members of our organisation who came from within the ranks of the IRA and had sat back and given Sinn Fein breathing space to make the [Good Friday] Agreement work and achieve their goals. That didn’t happen.
“Before we embarked on a campaign we set about acquiring arms and explosives. As the recent upsurge shows, we have the material required to carry out the campaign we have envisaged. It’s OK for people to say we don’t have the capability. A year ago they said we couldn’t even detonate a bomb.”