Were rifle and pistols part of dissident IRA arsenal? Hussey

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Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) MLA Ross Hussey has urged the Police Service of Northern Ireland to clarify whether the separate recovery of two handguns and an Armalite-style assault rifle in the North West were both from the arsenal of the dissident group currently operating under the IRA banner.

He made the comments following the discovery of Sig Sauer and Glock semi-automatic pistols and bullets in the City Cemetery last week and the earlier seizure of a military grade assault rifle in Strabane.

The PSNI said the recovery of the rifle followed an “investigation into violent dissident republican activity, in particular the New IRA.”

Mr Hussey condemned those who desecrated the City Cemetery but he wants to know if the two finds were in some way linked.

“It is absolutely appalling that anyone would violate the grounds of the City Cemetery by bringing a weapon into its confines. They are beneath contempt. This has once again caused distress to the local community and the families who have loved ones buried in the cemetery,” he said.

“Given the context of the discovery of an Armalite in Strabane last week which was linked to the ‘new’ IRA, this is a worrying development, and I will be seeking urgent clarification from the PSNI if they believe that these two discoveries are linked in any way.

“I would urge anyone who has any information to contact the PSNI immediately,” he added.

District Commander Superintendent Mark McEwan said last week: “I cannot say if these are linked but violent dissident republican activity is the main focus of our investigations into both seizures.”