Derry man facing IRA-linked charges denied electronic tag removal to go sea swimming

Patrick McDaid (50) wished to attend yoga and sea-swim sessions in Donegal
At Dungannon Magistrates Court

At Dungannon Magistrates Court© Getty Images

Tanya FowlesBelfast Telegraph

A judge has dismissed an application to vary bail terms for a man facing terrorism charges who wished to attend yoga and sea-swim sessions in Donegal.

Lawyers for Patrick McDaid, (50), with an address of Magowan Park in Derry, who was granted High Court bail last year, claimed the electronic tag “may bring about some negative feelings towards him”.

The co-accused are David and Sharon Jordan, and Damien Joseph McLaughlin from Dungannon; Kevin Murphy from Coalisland; Amanda McCabe and Shea Reynolds from Lurgan; and Joseph Barr and Gary Hayden from Derry.

All face similar offences with McLaughlin and McReynolds further accused of conspiring to possess Semtex and ammunition.

Scottish doctor Issam Bassalat is charged with addressing an IRA meeting. He has since been released on bail, as has Barr.

The offence allegedly occurred between February and July, 2020, and relates to covert surveillance recordings of alleged dissident republican meetings in a joint PSNI and M15 investigation, codenamed Operation Arbacia.

Previously, a prosecuting barrister stated McDaid held, “a high-ranking role within the organisation… The nature of the offences and criminal record are indicative of a deep-seated and entrenched mindset.

"The court will note the threat posed by violent dissident republican terrorists is serious and has produced substantial attacks on persons and property, raising public interest and safety aspects”.

The defence claimed McDaid only attended one meeting, addressed by Dr Bassalat, in which he asked about Palestinian self-determination, and insisted: “My client is a veteran of human and civil rights with an interest in republicanism. He’s not a person of violence.”

This was disputed by the prosecution who contended McDaid discussed internal security and is allegedly recording saying, “we need to f***ing put massive emphasis on security. Our enemy needs to know these people are f***ing cracking down.”

He also mentioned the ‘Green Book’, a training and induction manual issued by the IRA to new volunteers.

On that occasion, bail was refused but McDaid was later freed by the High Court with a number of conditions, including the electronic tag.

At Dungannon Magistrates Court today, a defence lawyer requested removal of the tag and for McDaid to be permitted to travel to Donegal as, “He wishes to take part in sea-swim and yoga mental health sessions.

"This takes place on a Donegal beach and my client will be in shorts. The fear is the tag may bring about negative feelings towards him.”

The variation was opposed by the prosecution who remarked: "Clearly the bail conditions are onerous but were considered against a risk of flight and reoffending. Balance has to be reached between proportionality and necessity.

"There’s no evidence to suggest the removal of the tag would render the defendant to danger. The very nature of the charges faced and the fact they are in the public domain, mean the detail is out there.

"He may prefer not to have the tag but that’s not what the court is dealing with.”

It was agreed the mental health sessions are understandable, however the prosecution pointed out these are available for McDaid without the requirement to leave the jurisdiction and urged the court, “Not to dilute the bail terms and therefore heighten risk.”

While District Judge Michael Ranaghan said anyone suffering from mental health issues should avail of necessary treatment and support, he dismissed the variation.

He said: “Those facilities are available for the defendant in the north. I understand the tag may cause embarrassment or concern, but there are ways of dealing with that, one of which is wearing a wetsuit and not shorts.”

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