Gerry Adams

Five suspected dissident IRA members have been arrested in Ireland after recent incidents involving the groups.

Meanwhile Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams has said talks with the dissidents to persuade them to give up their arms and join the peace process are underway.

It is believed that Sinn Fein are talking to 32 County Sovereignty committee members, considered close to the Real IRA.

The five men were arrested in Ardee, County Louth near the border. A car was stopped and a balaclava helmet and a firearm were discovered. Two men were arrested, Shortly afterwards another car with similar weapons was stopped and three men arrested.
Adams said efforts had already begun by Sinn Fein to reach out to dissidents.

"The attempt by Sinn Féin to initiate dialogue with the political groups linked to some armed republican factions is a genuine attempt by us to put very directly to these groupings that ongoing armed actions have no place in the struggle for Irish unity," he said.
"This is not a stunt."

Adams said dissidents had a right to disagree with Sinn Féin's strategy, but said violence would not achieve their goal of Irish unity.

Everyone is well aware of our position on the armed groups," he said. "These groups have the absolute right to disagree with the Sinn Féin strategy. They have every right to oppose us politically and in elections. Indeed they have done in the past and the republican community has delivered their verdict.

"There is a peaceful and democratic path available to a united Ireland - the vast majority of republicans are on it.

"As the party elected by republican communities to lead - we have a responsibility to provide political leadership. This is what we are doing.

"We want these groups to reflect on the political realities of Ireland in 2010. Their activities play into the hands of rejectionist unionism and those elements of the British system who seek to limit and frustrate the process of change.

"This engagement is about pointing out to these groups the futility of ongoing armed actions and the political space that is there for them to move into.

"We have also been active in trying to assist in a resolution to the situation in Maghaberry.(where dissident prisoners have been threatening a hunger strike).

"Clearly some of the groups contacted by us do not wish to engage. Others do and I would expect these meetings to take place shortly."

The development has come as dissidents stepped up their attacks on security forces in the North.

In the last week alone a car bomb exploded outside a police station in Derry while two bombs left under the cars of an army major and police woman in Co Down failed to detonate.

Sinn Féin have said that talks with the 32 County Sovereignty Movement were imminent but  the group responded by claiming it believed the discussions were to focus only on issues surrounding dissident republican prisoners held in Maghaberry prison in Co Antrim.

A spokesman claimed no firm arrangement on a wider meeting was agreed.