High security as Murphy is released on bail

ARMED gardaí stood guard yesterday as a leading figure in the IRA was accused of tax evasion.

The alleged former IRA chief of staff, Thomas “Slab” Murphy, was brought before a court in Louth just hours after medical staff called in to examine him said he was feigning illness.

The 58-year-old millionaire, of Ballybinaby, Hackballscross, on the Louth/Armagh border, was released on bail after facing nine charges of failing to file tax returns. It is alleged the total underpayment of taxes exceeds €2.5 million.

Murphy will appear before Dundalk District Court next Wednesday.

Judge Flann Brennan, at Ardee District Court, remanded Murphy on his own bail of €20,000 and two independent sureties of €50,000. He ordered Murphy surrender his passport, sign on daily at Dundalk Garda Station and live at an address in Co Monaghan.

Murphy — who unsuccessfully sued the Sunday Times after it claimed he was an IRA leader — was dressed in a navy jacket, open-necked yellow shirt and black trousers.

He stood in the court as Detective Inspector Kevin Ring of the Criminal Assets Bureau told the judge the arrest was made at 9.25pm on Wednesday at an address in Castletown Road, Dundalk.

Det Insp Ring said Murphy initially made no reply and was transported to Drogheda Garda Station, where he arrived at 9.50pm and was subsequently charged under the Tax Consolidation Act at 4.25am yesterday.

The officer said after each of the nine charges, Murphy replied: “I want my solicitor here.”

Defence solicitor Paul Tiernan described his client as a 58-year-old bachelor with no previous convictions. He said Murphy made a full statement of denial and he put it to Det Insp Ring that his client suffered ill-health when in custody and had to be taken to hospital.

The senior officer said a doctor was called to the station and believed Murphy was feigning injury, but he was referred to hospital in Drogheda for a second opinion.

Det Insp Ring rejected claims the investigation would take time, telling the judge that preparation of the book of evidence was underway.

Mr Tiernan said: “Despite what the inspector said, these investigations tend to drag on. The charges relate to failure to file returns. It will be a long and detailed investigation that would take considerable time.”

He assured Judge Brennan his client would abide by any bail restrictions.

Judge Brennan accepted Murphy’s brother-in-law, John Kirk, and his wife, Anne-Marie Kirk, as surety. They jointly put forward two plots of land.

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