Dissidents blamed as rocket is discovered in local residential area

Rocket Launcher in derelict house belonged to ONH

By Staff Reporter

ÓGLAIGH na hÉireann (ONH) has launched an internal investigation after a rocket launcher and warhead were found in a derelict house in West Belfast. Police made the discovery at an unoccupied property in Hawthorn Street off the Springfield Road on Tuesday night. The Cavendish Street/ Hawthorn Street/Springfield Road area has for some time been a hotbed of dissident republican activity, as reported in this paper. We’ve been told that the weapon was almost certainly in the hands of the Real IRA before being handed over to the now more active ONH.

“Looking at the pictures, this is an old RPG 7,” said our source, “so we are probably looking at a situation whereby individuals may have stolen the weapon or weapons from the IRA and brought them with them to the Real IRA back in the 1990s. These individuals have regrouped under ONH recently and old associates are now very close again once more. “This and the fact that well-known dissident/criminal elements were until recently living in the area means all indications are pointing towards ONH at the minute. And they’ll be keen to find out how the rocket launcher was rumbled.” These are the weapons seized following a police raid in West Belfast.

RPG-7-warhead-from-Hawthorn-St

The items were found during a planned raid at an unoccupied house in Hawthorn Street on Tuesday night. An examination has confirmed the rocket launcher is a military grade RPG 7 device with an accompanying warhead, while further examination of the items is under way. A number of nearby homes had to be evacuated during the search and security operation, which took place around 8pm, and a PSNI spokesman has attributed the weapons to dissident republicans. “This is a significant seizure in that it shows the continuing intent of dissident terrorists to inflict death and serious injury,” he said.   “It also displays the callous disregard these small groups have for the lives of those in local communities, given where it was stored and its potential in injure or kill anyone in the vicinity of where it would have been fired.

“The seizure is still under active investigation and police enquiries are continuing. We would ask everyone in the community to work with us to remove these weapons from our streets. “Police will continue to use every lawful means to disrupt and dismantle groups committed to violence.  “We would appeal for anyone with information about any such activity to contact us so that we can protect life and property and bring offenders before the courts.” Sinn Féin and the SDLP have both spoken out after the find. Sinn Féin councillor for the area Tom Hartley was on the scene on Tuesday night. “This appeared to be a planned raid and was over fairly quickly,” he said. “The unit knew what they were doing and why they were there but the episode still didn’t stop the  inconveniencing of nearby residents who had to be moved. “The people that left these weapons in the unoccupied house have nothing to offer this community.

“The community has no wish to go back to a period of conflict, it has a sense of where it wants to go and it will use the instruments of the Good Friday Agreement and Stormont to do

that. There is no reason for those who left the weapons to operate in such a manner, they have no support in this community where people want to move forward and bring about a better and more peaceful society.”

The SDLP’s Councillor Colin Keenan, who lives in Hawthorn Street, also said the community wants to move forward, not back.

“Yesterday evening’s security alert and weapon find will come as a shock to all residents in Hawthorn Street,” he said.

“Up to 10 houses were evacuated and residents had to shelter in a nearby parish hall.

“Those who possess such cynical and dangerous weapons aimed to cause destruction are trapped in a negative mind-set. They do not reflect the views of the wider community who want to move forward.”

SDLP West Belfast MLA Alex Attwood echoed Councillor Keenan’s thoughts.

“I join with my SDLP colleague Colin Keenan, a resident in the area, in condemnation of those who were involved in keeping and planning to use weapons of terror,” he said.

“The weapons that have been seized represented a very serious threat in themselves and confirm the continuing threat of dissident violence.

“This find should give even greater encouragement to all of the community to assist the police whose good work has helped save lives.”

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