1992 North American IRA arrests

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Four men were arrested in the United States on 11 November 1992, on charges of sending detonators to Northern Ireland for the use of the Provisional Irish Republican Army. They were later acquitted.

The arrests[edit]

The four men were arrested on charges of purchasing 2,900 detonators from a supplier in Arizona in November 1989, believed to be destined for the Provisional Irish Republican Army.[1] Three of the arrests took place in New York City, and the other in New Haven, Connecticut.[2] The FBI stated that the arrests formed part of a "terrorism operation"[2] The arrests were described elsewhere as a "political witch hunt".[3]

Although they were granted bail on November 17, they were held pending extradition to Arizona to face charges, amidst complaints from their family members that visits were difficult.[4]

The detainees[edit]

Although all citizens of the Republic of Ireland, Thomas Maguire from Fermanagh, and Gerard Branigan and Patrick Moley from Armagh were legal residents of the United States, and Denis Leyne from Cork was a legal Canadian resident living in Toronto.[3][4] Moley's brother Shamus had been arrested in 1990, along with Canadian Sean John McCann, following the attempted purchase of a Stinger missile.[3][5]


The men were acquitted of the charges in April 1994.[6]

Two native-born Floridians, John Lynch and William Kelly, were also charged in the conspiracy, but denied ever having even known the four men.[3]