Alleged deputy head of Real IRA held in Northern Ireland

24 June 2006
Agence France Presse

The man believed to be second in command of the breakaway Real IRA was charged Saturday in Northern Ireland with attempted murder and arms smuggling.  Paul McCaugherty, 39, from Lurgan, appeared before a court in Craigavon on charges of being between December 1, 2005 and June 19, 2006 -- the date of his arrest -- the deputy leader of the Real IRA, which broke away from the main Irish Republic Army (IRA) because it opposes the peace process.  He is also accused of trying to murder members of the security forces between May 2005 and June 2006. 

McCaugherty was one of 10 people picked up Monday in a swoop by police in Northern Ireland, working with their French, Irish and Portuguese countereparts.  He is accused of trying to procure Russian-made ground-to-air SAM-7 missiles and plastic explosives and having received 46,000 euros (57,500 dollars) in Portugal to conclude the deal.

On Friday Desmond Kearns, 41, and his wife Patricia, 37, also from Lurgan, appeared in court on charges of trying to procure large quantities of weapons. These included rocket-launchers, heavy machine guns, plastic explosives, detonators, mines, Russian AK47 assault rifles, sniper weapons, handguns with silencers and ammunition including armour-piercing rounds.  Michael Dermot Gregory, 37, from the border village of Crossmaglen was accused to providing the funds to carry out the deal.  Of the 10 arrested Monday four have been charged and detained to await trial while the others have been freed. 

The Real IRA was responsible for the bloodiest incident in the conflict in Northern Ireland, the bomb attack in Omagh in 1998 which killed 29 people.

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