Dissident bomb threat sparks two day security alert

October 6, 2014

A security alert close to Culloville, which lasted two days, ended late on Wednesday when police claimed “nothing untoward” was found.

The massive operation involving bomb squad detectives and sniffer dogs, centred on a scrapyard close to the home of alleged former MI5 agent, Declan Gregory.

It is understood the dissident republican group, The Irish Volunteers, claimed it planted a bomb in the area.  It followed last weekend’s attack on an Orange Hall close to the border at Keady when a device containing homemade explosives partially detonated at the premises, causing damage to a door.  Claiming responsibility for this attack, the splinter group added that it had left a further device at Gregory’s home. Police subsequently closed the stretch of road from Culloville to the border to search the area, while army technical officers carried out a series of controlled explosions.

It is thought Gregory has lived in the Republic since allegations of his involvement with MI5 surfaced a number of years ago.

The alleged informer was linked to the conviction of Dundalk man, Conan Murphy, who was jailed in 2012 for his part in a dissident republican trailer-bomb plot.  It was reported that Gregory provided information to cross border intelligence agencies following which Murphy was kept under surveillance, leading to his arrest.

In 2010, Gregory was convicted for his part in an alleged Real IRA gun-smuggling plot but he was later taken from Maghaberry Prison to an undisclosed location.

Commenting at the time, Sinn Fein MP, Conor Murphy, said he believed Gregory was an “agent provocateur”.

“I have to say that there is a widely held belief in south Armagh that Mr Gregory has been controlling, manipulating and directing the activities of the RIRA in this area for many years at the behest of MI5,” he said.

Local councillor, Terry Hearty, said the protracted security alert at Culloville had caused “serious disruption to the local residents and businesses.”

Speaking from the scene, he said: “It is very obvious that those who created this alert care little about the community. The situation has been further compounded by the length of time it is now taking to deal with the alert.”

Echoing her colleague’s sentiments, Megan Fearon MLA, said those responsible for the security alert “have nothing to offer the community but hardship”.