A Detective sergeant who took part in a Garda raid on a house in Limerick where a suspected Continuity IRA meeting was taking place has said he saw a number of men move from the front room as gardaí were breaking down the front door.
Detective Garda Senan O’Sullivan was giving evidence today in the Special Criminal Court in Dublin in the trial of seven men who are accused of membership of an illegal organisation, believed to be the dissident Continuity IRA.
Detective O’Sullivan told the court he had "a clear view" of the hallway as the door was coming down. "I saw Gerard Bromell, Christopher Dunne and Joseph Tiny Lynch move from the front room to the hallway into a room at the back of the house".
He said the men were followed into the back by Des Long.
Cross-examined by Mr Brendan Nix for the accused Joseph Tiny Lynch, the Detective Garda said events happened very quickly.
Counsel put it to the witness that the gardaí did not call upon those inside the house to halt. Neither, suggested counsel, did the witness have any time to identify anybody. "I did my lord," Detective Garda O’Sullivan replied.
"My client did not move from one room to another" counsel suggested.
"He did My Lord," the witness said.
Mr Nix then asked the witness if he was suggesting the men inside moved at such a rate that the gardaí "could not get out the words ‘armed gardai’" when one of the men needs a walking aid.
"Yes, My Lord," Detective Garda O’Sullivan replied.
"I suggest that’s nonsense," counsel retorted.
The court has heard that the seven men were arrested when a large party of gardai raided a house in the Shanabooley Road area of Limerick in December 2001.
In other evidence, Detective Garda Susan Delaney said she was standing near the front window of the house as the raid took place. She told the court she heard Detective Sergeant Heelan shout "gardaí-open the door, we have a warrant to enter".
She said the "front door went in" from several blows from a sledgehammer and gardai entered the house.
Detective Garda Delaney said she went into a room at the back of the house. "I saw a man, Des Long. He was standing towards the kichenette" she told the court.
Cross-examined by Michael Bowman BL for the accused Patrick O’Shea, the witness agreed she was armed and wearing a bullet proof vest. She said she and other members of the search party had been briefed that an alleged meeting of the IRA was taking place at the house that night.
It was the thirteenth day of the trial of the seven accused who 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 McNamara, 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.
It is the biggest ever trial of dissident republicans ever held at the Special Criminal Court.
The trial continues on Monday.