A WEST Belfast businessman, accused of possessing documents linked to the IRA, last night said he was ‘relieved, but angry’ after the case dramatically collapsed.
It came amid fresh concerns that three men charged two years ago over ‘Stormontgate’, the most sensitive police investigation since the peace process began, have still to stand trial.
Last Friday a charge of possessing documents likely to be of use to terrorists was withdrawn against William Tierney (59) from Coolnasilla Close, west Belfast, who strenuously denied the allegation.
Although the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) did not comment, Mr Tierney’s solicitor Oliver Kelly said the 16-month-old charge was withdrawn because of insufficient evidence.
“The arrest and charging of Bill Tierney was a calculated injustice,” he said.
Mr Tierney – a former republican prisoner who, since his release more than 20 years ago, has worked in computers – was remanded in custody on June 7 2003.
At a bail hearing, the court heard that details about an alarm and camera systems at the by-then defunct Maze prison were found on a computer seized from his west Belfast business premises.
It was also alleged information relating to alarm systems at court buildings as well as suspected IRA organisational documents and code words were found.
Before his arrest Mr Tierney claimed police attempted to recruit him as an informer.
Last night he said: “I am relieved it (the charge) was dropped. Why did they charge me in the first place?
“My business is gone. It has been very difficult, for me, my wife and family.”
Meanwhile, the ‘Stormontgate’ case – relating to an alleged IRA spy-ring within government – will also return to court on Thursday when the crown will attempt to prevent the disclosure of documents.
Former Stormont porter William Mackessy (45) from Wolfend Way, Ligoniel, Belfast; Denis Donaldson (53) from Aitnamona Crescent in Belfast, who was Sinn Fein’s head of administration at Stormont and his son-in-law Ciaran Kearney (32) of Commedagh Drive, Belfast are accused of possessing documents likely to be of use to terrorists.
In February, a charge of possessing documents of a secret, confidential or restricted nature originating from the Northern Ireland Office – central to the executive’s collapse – was withdrawn.
Charges against a fourth person were dropped last December.
Solicitor Kevin Winters, representing Mr Kearney, said: “It is an ongoing concern that wide-ranging, unjustified allegations can have a profound political impact and remain unsubstantiated. A trial date is unlikely this year.”
Solicitor Peter Madden, who represents Mr Donaldson and Mr Mackessy, also said he had complained about the delay.
“We now have to apply for disclosure of all evidence relating to the covert surveillance operation. This information is essential for my clients’ defence.”