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Friday, 20 October, 2000, 04:02 GMT 05:02 UK
Dissident threat reviewed at talks
Omagh bomb site
The bomb tore the heart out of the town
Police chiefs from both sides of the Irish border have met in Northern Ireland to discuss the security situation.

They were also joined in the talks at Hillsborough near Belfast, by British and Irish ministers.

In a statement after the meeting ended, those involved said they had "reviewed the overall terrorist threat".

It was thought the threat posed by dissident republican groups such at the Real IRA, was one of the main items on the agenda. The Omagh bombing investigation is also thought to have been discussed.

The talks involved Northern Ireland Secretary Peter Mandelson, Irish justice minister John O'Donoghue, Royal Ulster Constabulary Chief Constable Sir Ronnie Flanagan and the head of the Republic's police force, Garda Commissioner Pat Byrne.

The statement said that Mr Mandelson and Mr O'Donoghue had "found it a useful and constructive meeting".

It said the talks were "part of the continuing contact between the two governments on security issues".

Peter Mandelson: Holding talks at Stormont
Peter Mandelson: Holding talks at Stormont
The discussion was held against a backdrop of political instability in Northern Ireland and followed the weekend murder of dissident republican Joseph O'Connor.

His family has accused the Provisional IRA of the killing.

Meanwhile, it is thought part of Thursday's discussion focused on the inquiry into the dissident republican Real IRA bomb which killed 29 people in Omagh, County Tyrone, in August 1998.

One man is currently awaiting trial in the Irish Republic charged in connection with the bombing.

Further arrest in Omagh inquiry

Police have released without charge another two men brought in for questioning for the past three days in connection with the Omagh bombing.

A third man was released without charge on Wednesday night. Police are still holding a fourth man, who was detained in County Monaghan on Thursday.

On Wednesday night, the Irish government repeated its rejection of claims that it interfered in police investigations of the bombing for political reasons.

The allegations were made in weekend newspaper reports following the BBC television Panorama programme's decision to name four people suspected of involvement in the atrocity.

Mr O'Donoghue told the Dail that "the very suggestion of political interference in the Omagh investigation was simply horrifying".

He added that the allegation was also a "slur" on the Gardai.

The Irish justice minister also rejected opposition claims that the extended powers of the Offences Against the State Act had not been used.

BBC NI chief security correspondent Brian Rowan
"The Real IRA is most active when the peace process is most vulnerable"
See also:

17 Oct 00 | Northern Ireland
Irish parliament debates Omagh inquiry
02 Oct 00 | Northern Ireland
Police 'know' identities of bombers
27 Sep 00 | Northern Ireland
'Examine reaction to bomb warnings' - QC
22 Sep 00 | Northern Ireland
Death of toddler in bomb recalled
21 Sep 00 | Northern Ireland
Omagh blast ended young girls' hopes
19 Sep 00 | Northern Ireland
'Never again' plead Omagh family
10 Oct 00 | Northern Ireland
Omagh programme was 'media justice'
10 Oct 00 | Northern Ireland
Mobile phones key to Omagh probe
18 Oct 00 | Northern Ireland
Omagh interference reports 'a slur'
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