A Royal Marine who is being questioned by detectives investigating two major dissident republican arms finds has been named.
It has been reported that Ciaran Maxwell, originally from Larne, was arrested in a pre-planned swoop in Somerset on Wednesday. The 30-year-old serviceman was detained on suspicion of preparation for acts of terrorism.
The operation involved searches at a house and wooded area in south Devon. Mr Maxwell is believed to live at the address in Exminster with his partner and a young child.
In Northern Ireland, officers have also searched a number of properties in Larne. There was a major police presence at Old Glenarm Road in the town on Wednesday. Forensic officers in white suits carried out detailed searches through the day, and army bomb disposal units were also in attendance.
It is understood the searches are linked to two separate hauls of weapons discovered in Carnfunnock Country Park and Capanagh Forest earlier this year.
East Antrim DUP MLA Gordon Lyons commended the joint work of the PSNI and police services in England.
He added: “These events indicate clearly the benefits of intelligent led policing in relation to dissident Republican terrorism.
“Those who are involved in this activity have no regard for life and no place in our communities. Their actions are reckless and their objectives will always fail.
“I would call on the community to remain vigilant and rally behind our police service as they conduct their investigation into this matter.”
In March, bomb-making items were found at Carnfunnock Country Park. Police said four barrels were unearthed at Carnfunnock - two barrels were empty but two contained a variety of bomb-making components, including wiring, toggle switches, circuit boards, partially constructed timer power units, ball bearings and a small quantity of explosives.
Meanwhile, an armour-piercing improvised rocket and two anti-personnel mines were among the cache recovered at an arms dump at Capanagh Forest in May. Several pipe bombs, magazines and ammunition for an assault rifle as well as bomb component parts and command wires were also concealed in barrels in purpose-built holes in woodland.
Scotland Yard said the arrest in Somerset was carried out by officers from the Metropolitan Police Service’s Counter Terrorism Command, supported by Avon and Somerset and Devon and Cornwall Police.
A Ministry of Defence spokesman said: “We are aware of a police investigation involving the arrest of a member of the Armed Forces under the 2000 Terrorism Act and will assist this investigation fully. “It would be inappropriate to comment further on an ongoing investigation.”