DUBLIN (AP) — Seven Irishmen have been charged with membership in an Irish Republican Army faction after Northern Ireland police raided a suspected meeting of the outlawed Continuity IRA.
A judge ordered all seven held without bail during Monday's court arraignment in Newry, a predominantly Irish nationalist town near the province's border with the Republic of Ireland.
The men aged 30 to 75 — three from Northern Ireland, four from the Irish Republic — were arrested in the same Newry house on Nov. 10. A detective testified that evidence includes audio recordings of the men's private discussions produced covertly by the British spy agency MI5.
Six were charged with planning terrorist acts and conspiring to procure weapons. Five were charged with directing terrorism, a charge normally levied against suspected commanders.
Also Monday, Dublin police charged two men with IRA activities following weekend swoops that netted several handguns, a sawn-off shotgun, a Kalashnikov assault rifle and bomb-making equipment.
In Belfast, police and politicians condemned the latest IRA attempt to kill police officers following an overnight rocket attack on a police patrol on the edge of Ardoyne, an IRA power base. The homemade projectile detonated against the side of a vehicle shortly before midnight Sunday but failed to penetrate its armor and injured nobody.
In Northern Ireland's second-largest city, Londonderry, council leaders welcomed news that IRA extremists had lifted their threat to kill 11 community safety workers. Labor unions canceled a planned Monday protest against the death threats. IRA militants had threatened the workers, who try to woo youths away from involvement in crime, because they cooperate with police as part of their jobs.
The dominant IRA faction, the Provisionals, renounced violence and disarmed in 2005. But IRA splinter groups still mount occasional bomb and gun attacks to undermine Northern Ireland's unity government of British Protestants and Irish Catholics.