Garda Chief Superintendent testifies against IRA accused

A Garda Chief Superintendent has told the Special Criminal Court it is his belief a Dublin man on trial for IRA membership is a member of the IRA.

Sean Farrell (aged 27) of Kilfenora Road, Crumlin, has pleaded not guilty to membership of an unlawful organisation within the State namely Oglaigh na hÉireann, otherwise the Irish Republican Army, otherwise the IRA on July 7, 2011.

Chief Superintendent Diarmuid O’Sullivan told Mr Michael Bowman BL, for the State, that on the basis of confidential information available to him it was his belief that Sean Farrell is a member of an illegal organisation within the State, namely the IRA, and was a member on July 7, 2011.

He told Mr Bowman that he was not basing his belief on any matters discovered at the time of or subsequent to the arrest of the accused man or on any admissions made by Mr Farrell during his detention or throughout the investigation.

Mr Bowman earlier told the court that Chief Superintendent Kevin Donohoe, who was originally scheduled to give belief evidence that Sean Farrell was a member of the IRA, could not attend the trial.

Chief Supt O’Sullivan agreed with counsel for the defence, Mr Padraig Dwyer SC, that he had been involved in the garda investigation concerning Mr Farrell for the past ten months and held a belief that the accused man was a member of the IRA during that time.

However, he told Mr Dwyer that his belief “went back at least 10 years” as he knew Mr Farrell since 2001 and knew him to be a member of the IRA.

Chief Supt O’Sullivan agreed with Mr Dwyer that the information he was basing his belief on came from confidential sources, but said he was claiming privilege on the identity of those sources as to name them would be to put their lives in danger.

He said he believed if the identities of the sources were to be disclosed they would be “executed” as per the IRA “Green Book” of rules covering the divulgence of information to authorities, the consequences of which were death.

Chief Supt O’Sullivan agreed that these sources were known colloquially as informers and that the Morris Tribunal had found that covert sources made for “inherently unreliable” witnesses, telling Mr Dwyer that he had been in charge of the garda Covert Human Intelligence Source system which registered informants.

Put to him by Mr Dwyer that informants could only be of value if they were engaged in criminal activity or were close to those that do, Chief Supt O’Sullivan conceded that such an assertion could be made but added that informants could not partake in the garda programme if they were participating in crime on an ongoing basis.

Chief Supt O’Sullivan added that Ireland was probably the only country in Europe to have this requirement.

Told by Mr Dwyer that Mr Farrell held the position that he was a member of Sinn Féin, Chief Supt O’Sullivan replied he was aware of a “litany of incidents” that confirmed the accused man has been an active service member of the IRA for the last number of years.

Chief Supt O’Sullivan disagreed that the information provided by his confidential sources was inaccurate, telling Mr Dwyer that it spanned over 10 years and was correct.

The prosecution this afternoon closed its case at the trial, which will continue tomorrow in front of the non-jury court.

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