Suspect devices found near grave of former Real IRA leader

Major Garda and Army security operation at cemetery where Alan Ryan is buried

A major Garda and Army security operation is under way in north Dublin this afternoon after two suspect explosive devices were found near the grave of former Real IRA leader Alan Ryan.

The incident is regarded as the latest attack in the escalation of a feud between dissidents in Dublin and the gangland criminals believed to be behind the murder of Ryan last year.

A shooting in Dublin’s north inner city yesterday is also being linked to the feud.

The cemetery at Balgriffin, north Dublin, where Ryan is buried was sealed off this afternoon and the Garda had requested the assistance of the Army’s bomb disposal teams.


The discovery of the two explosive devices comes just three days after a major one-year anniversary commemoration was held at the grave of 32-year-old Ryan. He was shot dead at Grange Lodge Avenue in Clongriffin, north Dublin, on September 3rd last year.

At Saturday’s event, several hundred people, including a colour guard with paramilitary trappings, were met with a very significant Garda presence in a bid to prevent the scenes witnessed at Ryan’s funeral 12 months ago.

On that occasion, shots were fired over his coffin and masked colour guard in full paramilitary style attire was present.

While Saturday’s event passed off peacefully, Ryan’s headstone had been vandalised the night before, when the words “rat scum” were spray painted onto it.

Gardai believe the spray painting incident at the weekend was carried out at the behest of drugs gang leaders who wanted to embarrass Ryan’s associates and the dissident movement in Dublin generally at an event where they would be closely watched by the public and media.

The graffiti was cleaned off before the crowds gathered at the graveside on Saturday and the event passed off peacefully.

However, gardai believe Ryan’s associates were behind a shooting incident in Dublin’s north inner city yesterday, during which a number of shots were fired at a house. There were no injuries.

Detectives believe the shooting was a retaliatory attack for Saturday’s vandalism and that today’s discovery of the suspect explosive devices was retaliation for yesterday’s shooting.

Gardai believe Ryan and his Real IRA associates were extorting money from the biggest drugs in Dublin in the years before his death. A gun feud had begun between the Real IRA in Dublin and the gangs, and Ryan’s murder was part of that feud.

While the feud between the gangs and dissidents has simmered since Ryan’s murder, it has not resulted in the extreme violence that was feared. However, gardai believe the events of the past few days underline that tensions are at elevated levels at present.

Ryan’s associates have continued the extortion demands on the gangs since last year’s murder of their leader and the dissident republican movement has been beset with divisions.

Some of Ryan’s former associates have been subjected to punishment beatings and shootings since his death. A new dissident alliance called the New IRA has emerged in the past 12 months.

Conor Lally

Conor Lally

Conor Lally is Security and Crime Editor of The Irish Times