Arrest of IRA accused unlawful

The arrest of a man who was accused of IRA membership was yesterday ruled unlawful by the Special Criminal Court.

Arrest of IRA accused unlawful

Kevin Power, aged 38, with an address at Railway Street, Passage West, Co Cork, has pleaded not guilty to membership of an unlawful organisation within the State styling itself the Irish Republican Army, otherwise Óglaigh na hÉireann, otherwise the IRA on December 19, 2011.

Yesterday, the three-judge, non-jury court heard evidence and submissions during a ‘voir dire’, a trial within a trial, to determine legal issues relating to the arrest and detention of the accused man.

Hugh Hartnett, defending, challenged the arrest of his client under Section 30 (A) of the Offences Against the State Act (Amendment Act 1998) Act 1939.

This section states that a person who is arrested on suspicion of having committed an offence under the Act, and who is subsequently released without charge, cannot be arrested again for the same offence without a warrant.

Earlier, the court heard evidence from Detective Sergeant Patrick Murphy, of Anglesea St Garda station, Cork, that Mr Power had been arrested on January 19, 2011, on suspicion of IRA membership and was released without charge.

The detective told the court that he arrested Mr Power on December 19 of the same year, also on suspicion of IRA membership.

Mr Hartnett argued the second arrest was without a warrant and therefore unlawful.

Previously, the court heard evidence that on May 19, 2011, telephone calls warning of explosive devices at UCC and the Rock of Cashel, Co Tipperary, were made to the Samaritans and to Cork 96FM.

Evidence that an army-training grenade was found in a carpark at UCC was also presented to the court.

Returning judgement yesterday, Mr Justice Paul Butler said that it was “noteworthy” there was no evidence connecting or even suspecting the accused man of being connected with the “hoax bombs”.

“We have the bald evidence that [Det Sgt Murphy] suspected he was a member of an unlawful organisation,” the judge said. “That is not in any way different from the state of affairs when he was arrested on January 19 of the same year.”

“In those circumstances, we deem the arrest unlawful on the facts of this case,” said Mr Justice Butler .

Vincent Heneghan, prosecuting, told the judges that he will take instructions before the court sits again today.

The trial continues.

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