26 May 2006

Accused 'was wearing Óglaigh tee-shirt'


**Let this be a lesson. When you go out at night, leave your Óglaigh tee-shirt at home

25/05/2006 - 19:00:51

The prosecution in the trial of a man arrested when gardaí found a handgun hidden inside a van in north Dublin in June last year, has claimed he was wearing a tee-shirt with ‘Óglaigh na hÉireann’ written on it at the time.

Vincent Kelly (aged 21) of Empress Place, Ballybough, Dublin, pleaded not guilty to membership of an unlawful organisation styling itself the Irish Republican Army, otherwise Óglaigh na hÉireann, otherwise the IRA, on June 7, 2005, at the Special Criminal Court today.

Opening the case for the prosecution, Mr Tom O’Connell SC said that at around 10pm on June 7, three uniformed members of the Garda were in an unmarked patrol car when one of them looked down Marino Avenue and noticed a well-built man with dark clothing getting into a black BMW with a Dublin number plate.

He said there were three men inside the BMW and gardaí watched it drive onto the Malahide Road, in an apparent convoy with a white Astra Estate van with a Laois number plate.

He said gardaí followed both cars before they both did a u-turn opposite the entrance to Mount Temple School.

Mr O’Connell alleged the accused then got out of the passenger side of the Astra and seemed to be walking towards the BMW when it's likely the occupants of the BMW became aware the gardaí were behind them and pulled away from the scene.

He said Garda Ann Marie Gilmartin got out of the unmarked Garda car and approached the Astra while the driver of the car she had been in chased the BMW, before it also stopped on a nearby street.

He said that as Gda Gilmartin asked the accused to get back into the van she saw an unknown male crouched in the rear, who then got out and ran across the road, climbing the railings into the grounds of the school.

She thought the driver and the accused seemed nervous and summoned assistance to the scene.

Mr O’Connell said the accused was then required to go Clontarf Garda Station to be searched for drugs.

The Astra van was also driven back to the garda station and a small black canister, later identified as CS gas, two balaclavas, a pair of black woollen gloves and a handgun were found.

The handgun had been partially concealed under another black glove.

Mr O’Connell said the accused was later released and arrested on suspicion of the unlawful possession of a firearm before he was again released and arrested on suspicion of being a member of an illegal organisation.

He said the accused denied on a number of occasions that he was a member of the IRA. He said in the course of Mr Kelly’s time in Garda custody his clothes were taken away for forensic examination.

Underneath his outer garment Mr O’ Connell said evidence would be given that the accused was wearing a tee-shirt with ‘Óglaigh na hÉireann' printed on it, which showed an image of a number of men in combat gear.

A slogan printed on the label of the tee-shirt read: “Unbowed and unbroken.”

Garda Brendan O’Sullivan agreed with Mr O’Connell that he had detained the accused at the scene on the Malahide Road for the purpose of a drugs search.

When he later arrested him on suspicion of membership of an illegal organisation he said the accused made no reply.

The witness agreed with Mr Diarmaid McGuinness SC, defending, that when he saw Mr Kelly alighting from the Astra van he did not have anything in his hands.

Gda O’Sullivan also agreed there was no reference in his first statement to the grounds for detaining Mr Kelly and said he had made his second statement, possibly on the 20th of this month.

The trial continues before the three-judge court.

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