Renegade Republicans Targeted Shell

Dissident republicans linked to the groups which carried out the murders of two soldiers and a policeman in Northern Ireland last month were responsible for the break-in and criminal damage of the Shell gas plant in Corrib, Co Mayo last week.

The group of around 18 men wearing black balaclavas threatened and struck one of the two security guards on duty with an iron bar before causing damage costing thousands of euro in what Garda sources described as a "military-style" operation.

They used bolt cutters to break into the compound before commandeering a mechanical digger and destroying fencing and the entrance gates.

A delivery lorry was also heavily vandalised at the scene. When additional security staff arrived they group withdrew at around 12.30am.

A cache of improvised weapons; metal bars, a sledgehammer and wooden fence posts with nails, were recovered later.

The protest has been attracting dissident republicans from both sides of the Border. "They are using it as a recruiting ground," said one senior Garda source.

Last year gardai arrested one man during a violent protest who was subsequently questioned about the murders of the two soldiers in Antrim.

Another northern republican detected at the scene was previously a member of the Provisional IRA and was serving a 20-year sentence for bombing when he was released under the Good Friday Agreement.

Another ex-IRA prisoner now associated with the group Eirigi, which is playing an active role in the protest, was also arrested at the plant last year but not charged.

When the gas is running it will employ 130 people at the plant with a further 55 staff jobs in Mayo. The protesters refused to submit to the arbitration process set up by the Government but do attend the "forum" meetings under the former Department of Justice general secretary, Joe Brosnan.

See: Gang Attacks Corrib Shell Compound


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