Three men charged with IRA membership and firearms offences

The three men appeared before the Special Criminal Court this morning
The three men appeared before the Special Criminal Court this morning

Three men have appeared before the non-jury Special Criminal Court this morning charged with IRA membership and firearms offences.

Conor Hughes (38), Darren Fox (26),  and Jamie Smithers (36) were arrested in the early hours of Hallowe’en morning by members of the Special Detective Unit investigating dissident republican activity in County Limerick.

Mr Hughes, of Goatstown Close, Goatstown, Co Dublin, Mr Fox, of Coolevin, Ballybrack, Co Dublin and Mr Smithers, of St Patrick’s Park, Tullow, Co Carlow are each charged with membership of an unlawful organisation within the State styling itself the Irish Republican Army, otherwise Oglaigh na hEireann, otherwise the IRA, on October 31, 2015.  

Mr Hughes and Mr Fox are also charged with the unlawful possession of a Winchester 12-gauge, sawn-off, double barrel side by side shotgun and two 12-gauge shotgun catridges at Kyletaun, Rathkeale, County Limerick on the same date.

Gardai from the Special Detective Unit gave evidence to State Solicitor Mr Michael O’Donovan of the arrest and caution of the three men.

The court heard that none of the men made any reply to their arrest or caution.

When the registrar began reading the charges to Darren Fox, a man who identified himself as the accused’s father began addressing the court from the public seating area. He said that he had no communication as to what was occurring with his son. In response to the matter, presiding judge Mr Justice Paul Butler said the court would rise.

When the court resumed sitting, Mr Justice Butler said he wanted a note of what was said. He said he wanted it recorded that the accused men were of age and each were represented by solicitor and counsel.

Mr O’Donovan told the court that the gentleman who spoke was informed by gardai at his house that his son was in custody in Henry Street Garda Station in Limerick and he was informed of the reason for the arrest.

Counsel for Mr Fox, Mr Marc Thompson Grolimund, said he had no issue with the matter.

There was no application for bail on behalf of either of the three accused. Mr Justice Butler remanded the three men in custody to appear before the court again on Friday.  

By Brian Kavanagh