12 May 2006

IRA members' appeal attempt fails


12/05/2006 - 11:09:38

The Court of Criminal Appeal has dismissed on appeals by five Dublin men, described by a Garda Chief Superintendent as members of the Dublin Brigade of the Provisional IRA, against their convictions for membership of an illegal organisation.

The men were each jailed for four years at the Special Criminal Court on February 21 last year for membership of an illegal organisation styling itself the Irish Republican Army, otherwise Oglaigh na hEireann, otherwise the IRA on October 11, 2002.

They are Thomas Gilson (25), of Bawnlea Avenue, Jobstown, Tallaght; Patrick Brennan (42), of Lindisfarne Avenue, Clondalkin; Sean O' Donnell (33), of Castle Drive, Sandymount; John Troy (26), of Donard Ave and Stephen Birney (32), of Conquerhill Road, Clontarf.

After conviction, Chief Superintendent Peter Maguire told the SCC that all the men were members of the Provisional IRA, were attached to that organisation's Dublin Brigade and were answerable directly to its leadership.

The men had appealed on the grounds that the belief evidence of Detective Chief Superintendent Philip Kelly should not have been admitted in evidence and there was no corroboration of that belief

The men's lawyers also challenged the jurisdiction of the Special Criminal Court to try them.

Dismissing the appeals today Mr Justice Adrian Hardiman, presiding at the three judge court, said that the court had concluded that the challenge to the jurisdiction of the court was "without merit". The court also found that the belief evidence of Detective Chief Supt Kelly was "amply corroborated" by other evidence in the case.

During the 24-day trial, the court heard the men were arrested after an off duty Special Branch detective, Detective Garda Michael Masterson, noticed suspicious activity around three vehicles - a Nissan Almera car, a Nissan Micra car and a van.

The court heard gardaí recovered a large quantity of of Sinn Féin posters, including election posters for Sinn Féin TD Mr Aengus O Snodaigh, from the Nissan Almera car in which they also found a stun gun, a CS gas canister, a blue flashing light and a beacon.

Gardaí also found two pick axe handles, a lump hammer, three portable radios , cable ties, balaclavas and fake Garda jacket in the van. Four of the men were found seated on the floor of the van and two of them, Gilson and O' Donnell, were dressed in fake Garda uniforms, the trial was told.

Chief Superintendent Philip Kelly, the head of the Garda Special Branch, told the trial that he believed each man was a member of an unlawful organisation.

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