paramilitary | 

High-profile dissident republican appears in court charged over New IRA parade

Earlier this month Stephen Murney and his partner clashed with plain-clothed cops at Belfast International Airport after a week’s holiday in Spain
Stephen Murney

Stephen Murney

Ciaran BarnesSunday Life

A high-profile dissident involved in a confrontation with police at Belfast International Airport has appeared in court charged with taking part in a New IRA parade.

Stephen Murney (38) is accused of being among a group of hardline republicans dressed in military clothing who marched along the Falls Road in March 2018.

The illegal Easter Saturday event was in support of the New IRA, the paramilitary gang to which Murney has close links.

Earlier this month, Murney, who will be back in court on August 8, and partner Cliodhna McCool clashed with police at Belfast International Airport after a week’s holiday in Spain.

Footage recorded by the couple shows Murney confronting the plain-clothed officers, saying: “Not big now, are you? F*****g scum. You’re not so mouthy now.” McCool then joins in, saying: “MI5 scum.”

The stand-off occurred after the pair were stopped at border control where their passports were taken for security checks. After a lengthy delay, they attempted to walk on without the documents, only to be prevented from doing so by Border Force officers.

Plain-clothed cops then attempted to speak to Murney and McCool, who recorded the incident on their phones and posted the footage online.

The New IRA’s political wing Saoradh, of which they are both members, condemned their treatment.

This is not the first time Murney has clashed with police while on holiday. Last December, he filmed an approach by plain-clothed UK police while sitting in a Lanzarote cafe.

The leading dissident recorded the encounter on his phone and, while pursuing the officers, was apprehended by undercover Spanish police.

In an interview afterwards, he claimed the men were “MI5 operatives” and he was “under constant surveillance”.

Murney, based in Newry, runs a Saoradh office on St Mary Street in the town which was raided by cops during an anti-terror investigation in 2020.

He hit the deadlines a decade ago after being acquitted of collecting information for terrorists. Murney spent 14 months on remand at Maghaberry Prison’s Roe House before a court found him not guilty.

He had been accused of taking photographs of serving police officers and sharing them on social media. However, Murney successfully argued that he was only doing this to highlight what he said was “PSNI oppression” and that he had no sinister motive.

Meanwhile, in a bid to bolster support, Saoradh has organised a series of events in Derry on August 7 to commemorate the 51st anniversary of internment. Its leaders will unveil a monument at Free Derry Corner in support of republicans in the city.

Sources say the move is designed to highlight that the New IRA “has not gone away”.

The gang has been decimated by MI5 agent Dennis McFadden, who infiltrated Saoradh and organised meetings of the New IRA’s alleged ‘Army Council’ which were bugged by the security services.

Nine prominent dissidents are now on remand in prison facing charges connected to the devastating sting.

The exposure of Billy Elliott, another New IRA double agent in Derry, has dealt a further damaging blow.

“Thomas Mellon [Derry New IRA leader] wants to get as many people as possible to the monument unveiling,” a dissident source told Sunday Life.

“It’s all about showing the cops that the New IRA hasn’t gone away. The truth of the matter is that everyone in Derry knows that since McFadden it’s a busted flush. The leaders just don’t want to admit it.”

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