Gardai in Limerick had information that the Continuity IRA was hiring out guns to criminal elements in the city, a detective garda told the Special Criminal Court today.
Detective Garda Kevin Donohue, Henry Street, was giving evidence in the trial of seven men who were arrested when gardai raided a house in the Shanabooley Road area of Limerick in December 2001 where a suspected meeting of the Continuity IRA was taking place.
Mr Martin Giblin SC for the accused Patrick O’Shea, put it to Detective Garda Donohue that gardai "had no information that the Continuity IRA was hiring out firearms to criminals.
"Oh yes, we have" the witness replied.
Detective Garda Donuhue said he believed the "Real IRA in Limerick were involved in similar activity".
Counsel put it to the witness that he had no information that the Continuity IRA was hiring weapons from criminal elements.
"No," Detective Garda Donohue agreed.
Asked why questions put to the accused in interview suggested this, Detective Garda Donuhue said they were prepared as part of a pre-arranged script:
"We knew the IRA were hiring out guns to criminals and we had to keep that in mind about the movement of guns going over and back. As far as we were aware these people were involved in that activity." The questions, he added, were compiled by his superior officers with "that knowledge in mind".
The court heard that a handwritten note seized at the meeting contained the names of known criminals in the Limerick area. Detective Garda Donohue said these men were also known to have associations with the IRA. He told the court that the questions put to Mr O’Shea gave him an opportunity to give gardai an explanation.
The court heard that Mr O’Shea denied being a member of an illegal organisation but refused to answer any other questions, apart from saying he was a member of Republican Sinn Fein.
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.