Chef jailed for four years for IRA membership

A Cork chef arrested during a Garda investigation into IRA money laundering following the 2004 Northern Bank robbery has been jailed for four years for IRA membership by the Special Criminal Court in Dublin.

Don Bullman was found in possession of a Daz washing powder box containing €94,250 after his arrest outside Heuston Station in Dublin.

Bullman (aged 32), a chef and father of two, of Fernwood Crescent, Leghanamore, Wilton, Co Cork, had denied membership of an illegal organisation styling itself the Irish Republican Army, otherwise Óglaigh na hÉireann, otherwise the IRA, on February 16, 2005.

Mr Justice Paul Butler, presiding at the three-judge, non-jury court, said that there had been much background about the robbery of the Northern Bank, possession of money and money-laundering that was of legitimate interest to the gardaí and of public interest.

The judge stressed that Bullman had been convicted only of IRA membership and had not been charged with or accused of any other offence.

The judge said that the court had taken into account the fact that Bullman had no previous convictions, had honoured all his bail conditions, was an extremely hard-working man and supported not only his own family of two children but also the four young children of his late brother.

Detective Superintendent Diarmuid O'Sullivan told the court that Bullman was arrested after a Garda operation following the £26.5m (€38.8m) Northern Bank robbery in December 2004.

He said that gardaí had confidential information that Bullman would be meeting personnel at Heuston Station in Dublin with a view to transferring some of the finances that were part of the robbery.

The court heard during the trial that Bullman denied in interviews with gardaí that he was a member of the IRA or had any involvement in its activities.

Convicting Bullman last month Mr Justice Butler said that the court was satisfied that Bullman had failed to answer material questions put to him during interviews by gardaí.

The judge said that the court accepted the opinion evidence of Assistant Commissioner Ray McAndrew that Bullman was a member of the IRA.

Assistant Commissioner McAndrew told the court that he was chief superintendent in charge of the Cork City division before his promotion.

He had also told the court that in February 2005 he was appointed detective chief superintendent in charge of the Security and Intelligence Branch until his promotion to assistant commissioner.

Assistant Commissioner McAndrew said that his belief that Bullman was a member of the IRA was based on material from Garda and non-Garda sources.

In his defence evidence Bullman said that he was a member of Sinn Féin in the past but was now merely a supporter. He said he was well known within Sinn Féin and would have met people with pasts in the IRA.

Bullman said that he attended a catering exhibition at the RDS every two years and that he had filled in an application form in his own name while travelling on the train from Cork.

He said he had not written the words ``Gerry Mc Cabe, Catering Officer, the Garda Club'' on a nametag and said he had put the nametag in his back pocket because it was in bad taste.

Mr Justice Butler said that the court must find on the basis of the evidence of a handwriting expert that Mr Bullman did write his own name on the application form but did not write ``Gerry Mc Cabe''.

The judge said that, with regard to all the evidence in the case, the failure of Bullman to answer material questions when interviewed by gardaí was corroboration of the assistant commissioner's belief evidence.

The court ordered Bullman's sentence to be backdated to March 7 to take into account time he has spent in custody.

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