Both the Irish and British governments have insisted there are no talks, direct or indirect, taking place between them and dissident republicans.

Speaking following a meeting near Dundalk today to discuss the security situation, Minister for Justice Dermot Ahern and Secretary of State for Northern Ireland Owen Paterson said the dissidents did pose a threat but both jurisdictions were working together to end this problem.

Minister Ahern said that 'to the best of my knowledge' there were no talks going on.

He acknowledged that the dissidents may be recruiting, but said this did not involve large numbers of people.

He said those involved had no political agenda and no focus. They were, he added, denying the will of the Irish people.

Mr Paterson said he believed the dissidents were small in number, but that did not mean they were not a danger.

He said he had met Garda Commissioner Fachtna Murphy last night and said everyone was working 'as a team to smoke out this problem'.

He said the dissidents may be recruiting 'in a modest way'.

On the issue of talking to the groups, Mr Paterson insisted there were no talks.

'We cannot have serious negotiations with people who only two weeks ago, tried to kill two children. That is not the way we can carry on,' he told reporters.