MI5 Methodology admitted by Senior PSNI Officer in Entrapment and Eavesdropping Operation

Ciarán Shiels of Madden & Finucane crossexamined a PSNI Detective Chief Inspector at a first remand Directing Terrorism Case alleged to focus on the NIRA.

Four men and two women were remanded into custody today after appearing in court on charges including directing terrorism.

All six were arrested following a surveillance-led operation involving the PSNI and MI5 into the activities of dissident republican group the New IRA.

Legal representatives for some of the accused spoke of the involvement of an ‘agent provocateur’ and raised the issue of entrapment.

The two properties at the centre of the bugging case are located in Co Tyrone, with the police alleging that the defendants were recorded discussing New IRA activity in February and again in July.

The six accused all appeared at a remote hearing at Belfast Magistrates Court via a videolink with Musgrave Street police station.

They were:

Kevin Barry Murphy (49) from Coalisland
Sharon Jordan (45) from Dungannon
Amanda McCabe (49) from Lurgan
Damien McLaughlin (44) from Ardboe
Joseph Patrick Barr (32) from Derry
Gary Hayden (48) from Derry

Each of the six defendant were charged with four offences including belonging to a proscribed organisation, namely the Irish Republican Army, on dates between February 8 and July 20 2010, and of directing terrorism on the same dates.

They were also charged with two counts of involvement in the preparation of terrorists acts. The first charge relates to ‘attending a meeting’ at Barony Road on Sixmilecross on February 9 ‘to discuss matters in relation to acts of terrorism,’ with the second charge ‘attending a meeting’ at Buninver Road in Omagh ‘to discuss matters in relation to acts of terrorism.’

In addition, McLaughlin has been charged with conspiring to possess Semtex with intent to endanger life, and conspiring to possessing 100 rounds of ammunition with intent.

After the charges were put to each of the six defendants, they were all asked by the court clerk if they understood the nature of the charges. All six declined to answer.

A PSNI detective chief inspector said he believed he could connect all six defendants to the charges they faced. The officer also confirmed that the evidence against the accused was primarily in the form of audio recordings taken from two meetings, as well as video evidence which he said captured people arriving at and leaving the two properties in question.

Solicitor Ciaran Shiels, representing Joseph Barr, asked the officer about the surveillance operation and was told MI5 was acting under the direction of the PSNI.

And when asked if the aim of the operation was to target the IRA’s Army Council, the officer replied “that’s correct”.

Several of the defendants’ solicitors mentioned the involvement of a state agent, with Mr Shiels making the case that “this agent provocateur was employed to entrap them”.

No applications were made for bail at this stage, but solicitors for Jordan and McCabe revealed they would be seeking bail next week.

District Judge Fiona Bagnall said she believed there was “sufficient evidence” to connect all six accused to the charges levelled against them.

She also expressed concerns about the suitability of Belfast as a venue for the case. This, she said, was due to existing resource issues and pressures on the court, and a lack of connection to the jurisdiction.

Ms Bagnall remanded the six into custody and the case was relisted for September 18.

Irish News