A Special Branch detective told the Special Criminal Court in Dublin today that he believed that Des Long, the vice president of Republican Sinn Fein, was carrying out an anti surveillance measure in driving a circuitous route through Limerick.
Detective Garda Joe Heaney said that he was monitoring the movements of Mr Long on the evening of December 17, 2001 and he followed him as he drove from his home to the Castletroy Park Hotel.
The Detective Garda said that Mr Long drove around a roundabout and then back the way he came.
"In my opionion it was a manoeuvre to see was there anyone following him. I felt it was an anti surveillance measure," he said.
The court has heard that Mr Long was one of seven men 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(62), Vice President of Republican Sinn Fein, of Shannon Banks, Limerick, Patrick Kenneally(58), of Crusheen, Co Clare, Patrick O' Shea(54) of Sir Harry's Mall, Limerick, Gerard ``Ger'' Brommell(43), of Rostura Crescent, Woodview Park, Limerick, Robert Mc Namara(59), of St Michael's Avenue, Tipperary, Joseph ''Tiny'' Lynch(61), of Beechgrove Avenue, Ballinacurra Weston, Limerick and Christopher Dunne(28), of Donnellan Buildings, Rosbrien, Limerick.
Detective Garda Heaney said that he followed Long from his home to the Castletroy Park Hotel and back into Limerick.
"I am of the opinion that the journey was long and circuitous, one that there was no need to take. There was a well known local shortcut and he could have come home the same way," he added.
The Detective Garda said that the journey out to the Castletroy Park Hotel was 17.3 miles and the journey back was 17 miles. Taking the shortcut the journey would have been 3.4 miles out and 3.8 miles back.
Cross examined by Long’s counsel, Mr John Phelan SC, Detective Garda Heaney said that he had been briefed by Detective Sergeant PJ Walsh who told him that there was "an important IRA meeting to take place that evening and important IRA people would attend."
The trial continues tomorrow.