Men deny CIRA membership

The vice president of Republican Sinn Fein (RSF) and the organisation's PRO in Limerick denied at the Special Criminal Court today that they were members of the IRA or any paramilitary organisation.

The vice president of Republican Sinn Fein (RSF) and the organisation's PRO in Limerick denied at the Special Criminal Court today that they were members of the IRA or any paramilitary organisation.

Des Long, RSF's Vice President, said under oath: "I am not and never was a member."

Joseph "Tiny" Lynch, the organisation's PRO in Limerick, also said under oath: "I am not now and never have been in my whole life a member of the IRA or any other organisation whatsoever. The only thing I ever joined was the merchant navy."

He added: "I am totally against all types of violence."

The two men were the first of seven men accused of membership of the Continuity IRA to give defence evidence on the 41st day of the biggest ever trial of dissident republicans at the non-jury court.

Mr Long told his counsel Mr John Phelan SC that he was at a meeting of Republican Sinn Fein when gardai raided a house at Shanabooley Road in Limerick.

He said the purpose of the meeting was to discuss the setting up of a new RSF cumann in Limerick.

He denied that he had earlier used anti-surveillance techniques on a journey from his home to the meeting. Mr Long said that he was used to being followed to RSF meetings by Special Branch detectives.

He said that an anti-bugging device found at his home had been used by him on a number of occasions to debug places where RSF held meetings.

"Ìnformation had come into my possession that the provos were bugging our meetings. I didn’t want them bugging our meetings. To me it was a normal procedure."

Mr Lynch told his counsel Mr Brendan Nix SC that he had joined Sinn Fein in 1971 and that he was now the PRO of Republican Sinn Fein in Limerick.

Asked by Mr Nix if he acknowledged the jurisdiction of Oireachtas na hEireann to make laws and if it was the legitimate Government of the country, Mr Lynch replied: "Of course I do."

The court has heard evidence from Chief Superintendent Gerard Kelly that he believed each of the accused was a member of an illegal organisation on December 17, 2001. The prosecution has claimed that the Chief Superintendent's evidence was corroborated by a note found during a search of a house in Limerick which referred to firearms.

The court ruled earlier this week that interviews with the seven accused conducted by the gardai after their arrest were inadmissible in evidence.

The court has heard that the seven accused were arrested when a large party of 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.

The seven men 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 62), of Beechgrove Avenue, Ballinacurra Weston, Limerick and Christopher Dunne (aged 28), of Donnellan Buildings, Rosbrien, Limerick.

The trial continues tomorrow.

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