Ulster Unionist West Tyrone MLA Ross Hussey has praised the Garda for their latest success in combatting the threat from violent republicans following the seizure of arms in the Jenkinstown area of County Louth.
Mr Hussey, who represents his party on the Policing Board, said:
“Once again the people of Northern Ireland are indebted to an Garda Siochana for what is the third major dissident arms find in the past seven months. I understand that this cache of arms comprised assault rifles, mortars, explosive material and bomb components and that the area has been sealed off and searches are to continue for the next few days.
“Thanks to the Garda, these weapons have been removed from the hands of republicans who would doubtless have attempted to use them to carry out acts of terrorism in Northern Ireland.
“This latest discovery once again opens the debate as to what exactly the Provisional IRA did or did not decommission. Only the Provisional IRA know exactly what weaponry they held prior to the decommissioning process. Some of the recently recovered weaponry is new but there is no doubt that a quantity originates from Provisional IRA stocks.
“Recently when a handgun was recovered in Belfast our Deputy First Minister said clearly some people took some things home following the end of the ‘conflict’. When I left the police I kept my cap - hardly as dangerous as a handgun!
“I will be asking the Chief Constable to seek details of ballistic reports on the recovered weapons to see if any can be traced to previous crimes, including murder.
“I say again, it is essential that we have this matter clarified. For years I have stated my view that dissidents had possession of Provisional IRA weaponry. This was disregarded by the DUP and Sinn Fein but these discoveries by the Garda must reopen the question of what was and was not decommissioned.”