IRA accused had SF posters in car, court hears

Gardaí recovered a large quantity of Sinn Féin posters, including election posters for Sinn Féin TD Aengus O' Snodaigh, from a car in which they also found a stun gun and CS gas canister, the trial of five men accused of IRA membership heard today.

Gardaí recovered a large quantity of Sinn Féin posters, including election posters for Sinn Féin TD Aengus O' Snodaigh, from a car in which they also found a stun gun and CS gas canister, the trial of five men accused of IRA membership heard today.

The Special Criminal Court was shown the posters which said:``Sinn Féin No 1 Aengus O' Snodaigh'' and also the stun gun recovered by gardaí from the boot of a Nissan Almera car in Bray in October, 2002.

Another poster found in the car said: "Sinn Féin says no to bin charges''. In the car gardaí also found cable ties, car number plates, a blue flashing light similar to that used in emergency vehicles and a roll of tape.

The trial of the five men, who were arrested in Bray, has heard that gardaí detained the five men after they were seen acting suspiciously by an off duty Special Branch officer.

The five Dublin men have pleaded not guilty to membership of an illegal organisation styling itself the Irish Republican Army, otherwise Oglaigh na hEireann, otherwise the IRA on October 11, 2002.

They are Thomas Gilson (aged 24), of Bawnlea Avenue, Jobstown, Tallaght; Patrick Brennan (aged 40), of Lindisfarne Avenue, Clondalkin; Sean O'Donnell (aged 32), of Castle Drive, Sandymount; John Troy (aged 22), of Donard Avenue and Stephen Birney (aged 30), of Conquerhill Road, Clontarf.

Chief Superintendent Peter Maguire has told the court that he believed the men were members of a Provisional IRA active service unit attached to the Dublin Brigade of that organisation.

He said that he believed that organisation was on ceasefire and he immediately ordered an investigation into what was going on.

Detective Garda Michael Keating, of the Ballistics Section, told the court today that he examined the blue Nissan Almera car at Bray Garda Station. He found a packet of cable ties under the front passenger seat and on the floor a roll of black tape.

Also on the front passenger floor he found a blue light cover and heavy duty battery which was similar to the type of blue light used in garda vehicles.

In the boot of the car he found a bin liner containing a CS gas canister and stun gun. Detective Garda Keating said the stun gun is capable of discharging 40,000 volts when used against someone, and is used to incapacitate people.

He also found four packets of cable ties in the boot and a large quantity of Sinn Féin posters which he showed to the court.

Mr Tony Murphy told the court that he was a member of the Ballyfermot Sinn Féin cumann and that he agreed to allow his transit van to be used for election activities for Sinn Féin.

He said that on October 10, 2002 someone called to his door , indicated he was from Sinn Féin and asked could he have the van for election purposes. He gave the man the keys to the van but the next morning when he went to go to work the van was not there.

Mr Murphy said he believed the van was to be used for "postering". He said that he left a number of personal items such as a driving licence, cable ties, football gear and passport photos in the van.

He said that he was aware that when the van was found by gardaí at Bray it contained a number of other items including a sledgehammer, pick axe handles and balaclavas which had nothing to do with him.

Asked by prosecuting counsel Mr George Birmingham SC if he felt aggrieved that his van was "used in this fashion", Mr Murphy replied: "Sort of."

The trial continues tomorrow.

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