Martin McLoone declined our offer on Friday to explain if the claims made at the Special Criminal Court during the trial for the murder of Kinahan cartel member David Byrne, were accurate.
The court was told on Tuesday that Gerry ‘The Monk’ Hutch, who’s charged with murder, is believed to have travelled to Northern Ireland with former Sinn Fein councillor Jonathan Dowdall.
The prosecution say Dowdall travelled to meet Martin McLoone, who they say was at the time in the Real IRA, on January 5 2016.
They say two weeks later Dowdall returned to Derry for meetings and this time brought Gerry Hutch.
State witness Dowdall has given garda statements in which he claimed that he and ‘The Monk’ met with dissident republicans in northern Ireland in the wake of the shooting.
We called at McLoone’s Abercorn Road home, where he lives with his convicted dissident terrorist dad Eugene McLoone, to see if he wanted to confirm, deny or explain why Dowdall and Hutch would want to meet with him six years ago.
But we were told he was at hospital visiting a sick relative and after leaving a contact number and details about our story he declined the offer to make contact to offer an explanation.
We can reveal McLoone, who’s 34-years-old now, was jailed for eight years after he and three other republicans were caught with a loaded gun in October 2010.
The four were caught in a Ford Fiesta car on the Goritcashel Road outside Omagh with McLoone and another man sitting in the back with the seats laid flat.
Police searched the car and found a .38 Webley revolver hidden in a sock in a green Celtic holdall.
The weapon had been deactivated in 2003 but had been reactivated to fire .22 rifle cartridges.
Detectives also discovered ammunition, including 13 rounds of .22 rimfire rifle cartridges and 20 rounds of 9x19mm calibre cartridges, inside a second sock.
Follow up searches led to the discovery of a sub-machine gun, bullets, latex gloves and combat jackets at an address in Greencastle, Co Tyrone.
When initially arrested McLoone told police at the scene that he was “going to a republican meeting.” Asked about the gun, he replied: “I didn’t know it was there.”
But three years later McLoone pleaded guilty to possession of a firearm with intent.
McLoone went to the Court of Appeal a year later in the hope his sentence would be reduced but his case was chucked out.
Lord Justice Gillen said: “The offence the appellant was convicted of, and the circumstances in which it occurred, well merited the sentence he received.”
He served four years in Maghaberry Prison and at one stage was joined in the same Roe House prison wing by his dad Eugene who had been charged with bomb offences.
In 2013, the then-56-year-old pleaded guilty at Belfast Crown Court to having the improvised device with intent to endanger life and cause serious injury to property after he was caught driving a car with a pipe bomb.
Eugene McLoone was jailed for seven years with half to be served behind bars and the other half on licence and left his son shocked when he arrived in prison alongside him in 2011.
Martin McLoone has since apparently turned his back on violence but remains heavily involved with dissident republican politics and has been the PRO for the Republican Network for Unity group, based in Derry.
In fact he now spends his days attending republican commemorations while writing poems and short stories which he posts on social media – the most recent a ghostly tale about being contacted by a dead relative.
He gave an interview to the Irish Examiner two years ago where he said he’d turned away from the “armed struggle”.
It’s all a far cry from his days as a senior dissident republican.
Gerry ‘the Monk’ Hutch is on trial charged with murdering David Byrne who was shot dead at the Regency on February 5, 2016.
Two co-accused men, Jason Bonney and Paul Murphy are accused of helping the criminal organisation responsible by providing cars used to drive the assailants away after the shooting.
Byrne (33), a Kinahan gang member, was killed when three assault rifle-wielding masked gunmen, disguised as ERU gardai, stormed the Regency in north Dublin along with an armed man dressed as a woman in a blonde wig, and another in a flat cap.
The attack on a boxing weigh-in event happened as a bloody feud raged between the Kinahan and Hutch gangs.
Hutch (59), of The Paddocks, Clontarf, Dublin, Mr Murphy (61) of Cherry Avenue, Swords and Mr Bonney (51) of Drumnigh Wood, Portmarnock, deny the charges against them.