Special Criminal court may halt CIRA trial

The Special Criminal Court will rule tomorrow on an application to halt the trial of seven men accused of membership of an illegal organisation, the Continuity IRA, over what the defence claims is prejudicial evidence.

The Special Criminal Court will rule tomorrow on an application to halt the trial of seven men accused of membership of an illegal organisation, the Continuity IRA, over what the defence claims is prejudicial evidence.

Lawyers acting for three of the men claimed the trial has been "tainted" following the evidence of Detective Sergeant PJ Walsh, Henry Street, Limerick, who told the court that the defendants Des Long and Patrick O'Shea were known to him as IRA members.

Mr John Phelan SC, acting for Mr Long, submitted such "hearsay" evidence which was "without any substance" would have influenced the court. If this was a jury trial, he argued, the jury would be discharged immediately.

He was supported in his application by Mr Martin Giblin SC, acting for Patrick O'Shea and Mr Peter Finlay SC representing Gerard Brommell.

The court has heard that the seven men were arrested when a large party of gardai raided a house in the Shanabooly Road area of Limerick in December 2001.

Prosecuting counsel Mr John Edwards SC has told the court that gardai found a note in the house which referred to firearms and had other references to a person "wanted for knee cap job" and to a "safe house".' He said the unlawful organisation in the case was the Continuity IRA.

Chief Superintendent Gerard Kelly gave evidence earlier that in his opinion, each of the seven accused was a member of an unlawful organisation on December 17, 2001.

The seven accused have pleaded not guilty to a charge that on December 17, 2001, within the State, they were members of an unlawful organisation styling itself the Irish Republican Army, otherwise the IRA, otherwise Oglaigh na hEireann.

They are Des Long (aged 62), Vice President of Republican Sinn Fein, of Shannon Banks, Limerick, Patrick Kenneally (aged 58), of Crusheen, Co Clare, Patrick O' Shea (aged 54) of Sir Harry's Mall, Limerick, Gerard ``Ger'' Brommell (aged 43), of Rostura Crescent, Woodview Park, Limerick, Robert Mc Namara (aged 59), of St Michael's Avenue, Tipperary, Joseph "Tiny" Lynch (aged 61), of Beechgrove Avenue, Ballinacurra Weston, Limerick and Christopher Dunne (aged 28), of Donnellan Buildings, Rosbrien, Limerick.

The trial continues tomorrow

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