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IRA accused seen walking up "dark, muddy laneway" the night he was arrested

IRA accused seen walking up "dark, muddy laneway" the night he was arrested

A Monaghan man was seen walking up a "dark, muddy laneway" near two derelict houses on the night he was arrested for IRA membership, the Special Criminal Court has heard.

Jim Smyth (44), with an address at Aghalissabeagh, Scotstown, County Monaghan has pleaded not guilty to membership of an unlawful organization, styling itself the Irish Republican Army, otherwise Oglaigh na hEireann, otherwise the IRA, on November 25th, 2015. 

Opening the prosecution case today, Shane Costello SC said the court will hear evidence that on the day of the alleged offence, a few hours before Mr Smyth was arrested, there was a meeting convened by senior gardai at Monaghan garda station. 

He said that Detective Chief Superintendent Tom Maguire, of the Special Detective Unit, briefed the other officers on confidential information in relation to the activities of Mr Smyth, and that an operation was put into effect that night.

The court will hear that gardai went to land around two derelict houses at Knockatallon, County Monaghan.

The barrister said that Detective Garda Alan O'Connor will give evidence that he observed the accused man getting out of a car and walking up a "dark, muddy laneway" at approximately 9:25pm.

The court will also hear evidence that Detective Sergeant Gerry Doherty encountered the accused man and arrested him.

Another part of the prosecution case will be interviews conducted with Mr Smyth under Section 2 of the Offences Against the State Act. 

The section allows a court to draw inferences from a suspected person's failure or refusal to answer questions regarding alleged IRA membership.

Mr Costello said the court will hear that with regard to certain questions Mr Smyth said he was not a member of the IRA but with regard to specific items found after the arrest he declined to answer.

Evidence relating to a "very significant search" will also form part of the prosecution case. 

The barrister said the evidence will be that the search, which lasted seven days, was carried out after Mr Smyth's arrest, and that "certain circumstantial material was recovered".

He said that of "crucial importance" for the prosecution is that amongst some of the material found during the search was an item analysed by the fingerprint section.

The evidence will be that a print matching Mr Smyth's was found on a medicine pillbox that was found among the other items, the court heard. 

The court will also hear evidence from Chief Superintendent Christopher Mangan of his belief that Mr Smyth was a member of the IRA on the date in question

The trial resumes tomorrow in front of Ms Justice Isobel Kennedy, presiding, sitting with Judge Sinéad Ní Chúlacháin and Judge James Faughnan.