Arrests of six IRA accused deemed unlawful by court

The Special Criminal Court has ruled that the arrests of six Dublin men accused of IRA membership at a house in Tallaght were unlawful.

Arrests of six IRA accused deemed unlawful by court

Mr Justice Tony Hunt yesterday said that in each of the six cases, they fell short of a “modest level of necessary objective justification” for arrests, under section 30 of the Offences Against the State Act, on suspicion of IRA membership as explained by the Supreme Court in the Walshe v Fennessy case in 2003.

The six are:

  • Brian Nick McBennett, aged 54, of Ard Collum Ave, Artane;
  • Kevin Braney, aged 39, of Glenshane Crescent, Tallaght;
  • Michael Barr, aged 33, of Carlton Court, Poppintree, Ballymun;
  • John Brock, aged 41, of Glenview Park, Tallaght;
  • Declan Phelan, aged 31, of Lanndale Lawns, Tallaght;
  • and Desmond Christie, aged 49, of Liam Mellows Rd, Finglas.

The seventh accused is Peter Burns, aged 39, of Glenshane Crescent but he did not challenge the legality of the arrest.

Tara Burns, for the State, then told the court she needed to take instructions from the DPP and asked to adjourn until Tuesday.

Three days ago Mr Justice Hunt ruled that evidence relating to a search warrant for a house in Tallaght was admissible in the trial of seven men accused of IRA membership. He said the court found both the issuing of the warrant by the district court judge and the execution of the warrant to be valid.

The court previously heard that gardaí found two packages containing tightly folded paper wrapped in clingfilm that were allegedly communications from prisoners in Portlaoise Prison on a coffee table in a front room where the seven men were gathered.

The court then embarked on a “voir dire”, or trial within a trial, relating to the search warrant and the arrest of the accused at the house in Tallaght.

At the opening of the trial, Ms Burns said it was the prosecution’s case that the seven accused were holding a meeting in a house — in Glenshane Crescent, Tallaght, where Ms Burns said one of the accused, Peter Burns, lived with his father — as members of the IRA to discuss those communications.

Each of the men have pleaded not guilty to membership of an unlawful organisation styling itself the Irish Republican Army, or the IRA, on July 3, 2013.

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