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Paramilitary pensioner convicted of terror charges had ‘hero’ IRA grandad

The judge accepted Perry worked as a commentator and journalist, but said the notes were of a “sinister nature”.

Nuala Perry outside court© Photopress Belfast

Hugh JordanSunday World

A PARAMILITARY pensioner convicted in court this week has republican links going back generations – including an IRA grandfather who died in prison during the Second World War.

Fionnghuale Mary Teresa Dymphna Perry (65), of Waterville Street off the Falls Road in west Belfast, was found guilty in the Crown Court of a string of terror charges.

At her trial in January, Nuala Perry – as she is also known – denied a charge of collecting or making a record of information likely to be of use to terrorists.

It related to a republican security debrief after police recovered firearms, ammunitions and explosives from another property on Ballymurphy Road.

Perry further denied possessing documents likely to be useful to a person committing or preparing an act of terrorism.

During her non-jury Diplock Court trial, Judge John O’Hara was told by senior prosecution lawyer how police found the relevant material in an upstairs spare bedroom during a search of Perry’s west Belfast home five years ago.

Police seized a box of Chloe perfume and inside, officers found seven cigarette papers with hand-written notes on them containing information about arms and explosives.

The notes also contained names and initials of people interviewed in connection with the arms find in Ballymurphy.

In interviews in a PSNI custody suite, Perry refused to answer any questions in connection with the police find.

But during her trial, Perry put forward a defence claiming that as she was a journalist who commented on security matters she had a reasonable excuse for possessing such material.

She also claimed she didn’t know what the notes meant and she explained she had destroyed the originals.

But in a reserved judgment, Mr Justice O’Hara said: “I do not believe the defendant’s account.” And he added that her account “wasn’t credible” and “made no sense”.

The judge accepted Perry worked as a commentator and journalist, but said the notes were of a “sinister nature”.

He released Perry on continuing bail and said he will pass sentence later in the month.

The Sunday World has learned that two of Nuala Perry’s relatives were also convicted of serious republican terror charges.

On July 7, 1942, Terence Perry (27), from Ton Street, Belfast, died in Parkhurst Prison on the Isle of Wight after he fell ill. He was Nuala Perry’s grandfather.

Perry was a member of the IRA’s D Coy based in the Falls area and he was serving a sentence for explosives when he died as a result of ill-treatment. He was one of a number of Belfast IRA men involved in the failed ‘S’ plan to attack England while Britain was at war with Germany.

His remains were returned to Belfast and he was buried in the republican plot in Milltown Cemetery. Thousands of sympathisers attended the funeral and a republican accordion band was named in his honour.

Also in 1942, 21-year-old Jimmy Perry – another of Nuala Perry’s relatives – was sentenced to be hanged after he was convicted along with other IRA men of the murder of a Catholic police officer in the Clonard area.

His sentence and that of four others was later commuted to hard labour for life, although Tom Williams – the IRA leader – was hanged in Crumlin Road Prison in September 1942.

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