A 71-year-old man, described by police as a top dissident IRA leader, was arrested in a police raid in Ireland yesterday.

He was arrested in an operation that Irish police say has broken up a major IRA dissident ring and they discovered a bomb factory in the process. Nine men were in custody after the bomb factory in Wexford was discovered. Three locations were raided, including a house in County Louth where a handgun was found.

Two of the men were suspected to being major players in the Real IRA. Among the arrested was the 71-year-old man who is suspected of being a major player in the terrorist group. He previously had a long association with the Provisional IRA.

The Real IRA took credit for a major bombing in Derry this week, when they exploded a car bomb in the business district there. The raids have followed that activity.