Court cannot accept Garda Chief Superintendent's opinion that men are IRA members

Central Criminal Court
Central Criminal Court

The Special Criminal Court has ruled that it cannot accept the opinion evidence of a Garda Chief Superintendent that seven Dublin men are IRA members because there was not full disclosure in advance to the defence that telephone intercepts were part of the basis for his opinion.

Detective Chief Superintendent Peter Kirwan, the head of Security and Intelligence at Garda Headquarters, previously told the court that he believed  on the basis of confidential information that all seven accused were members of the IRA.

He claimed privilege in relation to the sources of the confidential information but during cross examination he admitted that it was based on human sources and telephone intercepts.

Today Mr Justice Paul Butler, presiding at the non jury court, said that this had not been disclosed in advance to the defence and a “basic unfairness of procedure” in the case  had resulted and the only remedy was to rule the belief evidence as inadmissible.

Prosecuting counsel Mr Vincent Heneghan BL applied for an adjournment to allow the prosecution to take instructions from the DPP in relation to the trial and the court adjourned the trial until Friday.

The seven  men before the court are: Kevin Braney (40), of Glenshane Crescent, Tallaght , Des Christie (50), of  Liam Mellows Road, Finglas,  Hubert Duffy (47), of George’s Place in Dublin 1, William Jackson (55), of Dooncourt, Poppintree, Declan Phelan (33), of Lanndale Lawns, Tallaght, John Brock (42), of Glenview Park, Tallaght, and Darren Murphy (44), of Rory O’Connor House in Dublin 1.

All seven  have pleaded not guilty to membership of an illegal organisation styling itself the Irish Republican Army, otherwise Oglaigh na hEireann, otherwise the IRA on March 29th, 2013.

The prosecution had claimed that the seven men were part of an IRA operation to extort money from a used car dealer in Clondalkin and that they had travelled to the car dealership for that purpose.

The court heard that members of the Emergency Response Unit and the Special Detective Unit moved in to arrest the men and that a number of items were recovered from the scene.

In follow up searches of two vans, an office and kitchen, gardai found cable ties, gloves, balaclavas, a baseball bat, a lump hammer, a pepper spray and a Glock pistol.

The prosecution case relied on garda observations of the men on the morning of their arrest, items found at the scene, their response to questioning during garda interviews and the opinion evidence of Chief Superintendent Kirwan.