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Trial of IRA accused hears from specialist surveillance unit officers

Trial of IRA accused hears from specialist surveillance unit officers

The trial of a man accused of IRA membership has been listening to evidence from members of the National Surveillance Unit (NSU) regarding the movements of two cars through counties Westmeath and Louth.

It is the prosecution's case that Michael Connolly (44) was observed by members of the NSU driving in convoy with a man who was later found with two improvised explosive devices (IEDs).

Mr Connolly, of Grange Drive in Dundalk, County Louth, has pleaded not guilty to membership of an unlawful organisation, styling itself Oglaigh na hEireann, otherwise the Irish Republican Army, otherwise the IRA on December 16th, 2014. 

The court heard evidence today from a number of NSU officers, who cannot be named for legal reasons. 

One officer told prosecuting counsel Fiona Murphy BL that on the morning of December 16th, 2014, he observed two cars, a blue Fiat Punto and a black Vauxhall Vectra, park outside the post office in Delvin, County Westmeath.

He said that the Punto's driver got out, approached the Vectra and spoke in the window to the driver, before returning to the Punto.

Both cars then proceeded toward Mullingar, the court heard.  

Detective Garda E told the court that on the same morning, at 9:17am, he saw the blue Fiat Punto drive into Springfield Cottages in Mullingar. 

The detective said that the driver, a male, got out of the car, walked to a house and knocked on the door.

There was no reply, the court heard, and the man looked in the windows before returning to the Punto.

He remained sitting in the car and appeared to be on the phone, the detective said.

The court heard that the detective then saw the black Vectra drive into Springfield Cottages. The car then drove back toward the Delvin Road.

The Punto's driver walked back to the same house and was admitted inside, he said.

Later, the Vectra returned, and the driver was seen touching the front of his jacket as if he was holding something inside it, the court heard.

The trial continues in front of Mr Justice Tony Hunt, presiding, sitting with Judge John O'Hagan and Judge Flann Brennan.