IRA dissident and bomb maker Blair wants to be transferred to Portlaoise prison


One of the most notorious dissident republicans in the state’s history has applied to be transferred from prison in Northern Ireland to Portlaoise prison.

Convicted bomb maker Patrick “Mooch” Blair, 67, is serving a five-year sentence handed down in November 2020 after he and six other men were caught in an MI5 wiretapping operation against the Continuity IRA.

Blair, who has strong ties to the Dundalk area, has been found guilty of charges of membership or alleged membership of a banned organisation; provision of weapons and explosives training; conspiracy to possess explosives, firearms and ammunition with intent to endanger life; and gathering information that could be useful to terrorists.

Sources said he recently applied to serve out the remainder of his sentence in the republic under the Council of Europe Convention on the Transfer of Sentenced Prisoners.

For his application to be successful, there must be an agreement with the authorities here and in Northern Ireland, and four separate conditions must also be met.

“This is an individual who has long been involved with dissident republicanism and if he returns to the republic he will be closely monitored by the Special Detective Unit and other specialized Garda units,” a source said.

“He applied for a transfer here, but the process could take many months.”

At his hearing on the verdict in 2020 at Belfast Crown Court, Judge Colton said Blair and a co-defendant “did not deny their involvement in dissident Republican activities”.

Mr Justice Colton said the content of the discussions, which included plans to build bombs and kill, was “dark and depressing reading” and that Blair posed a danger to the public.

Although the defendants were only charged with conspiracy, Judge Colton said the plans were “frustrated” when police searched the meeting house in Ardcarn Park, Newry, on November 10, 2014.

The defendants pleaded guilty to charges of an undercover surveillance operation at Belfast Crown Court.

The records revealed a conspiracy targeting a senior prison warden and certain police officers. Among the targets named was Drew Harris, Commissioner of Lake Garda, who was Deputy Chief of Police for the PSNI at the time of the arrests.

Evidence was also presented of plans to break into homes for cash and legal firearms, a conspiracy to steal sulfur from a Dublin factory to make explosives and a plan to buy a silencer for an automatic pistol that Blair had in his possession.

It was the prosecution’s case that Blair was the leader of the Continuity IRA.

Blair was one of the senior IRA men during the riots and later became involved with the Real IRA.

He was named in the British House of Commons as having “helped build the Omagh bomb”.

This atrocity killed 29 people in 1998, including a woman who was pregnant with twins.

Blair later denied any involvement in the bombing.

In November 2011 he told the Smithwick Tribunal that former MI5 whistleblower Kevin Fulton, who named him a suspect, was “a freak” and he offered to take a lie detector test to prove it.

In 1975, Blair was sentenced to 15 years in prison for attempted murder. He was released in 1982 and moved to Dundalk.

When contacted, a spokesman for the Irish Prisons Service said they “do not comment on individual prisoner cases”. IRA dissident and bomb maker Blair wants to be transferred to Portlaoise prison

Fry Electronics Team

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