A senior Special Branch officer told the Special Criminal Court today that he went to Bray garda station after he was told by one of his officers that he believed five men arrested for theft were members of the Provisional IRA.
The court has heard that 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 after the mens arrest.
The 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.
Detective Inspector Liam Hogan, who was the duty Inspector in charge with the Special Detective Unit on the night of October 10, 2002, said he was contacted by Detective Sergeant Joe Devine who told him that five men had been arrested.
Detective Sergeant Devine also told him that the men had garda uniforms, two-way radios and balaclavas and he decided to go to Bray garda station where the men were being detained.
He arrived at Bray shortly before 3 am on October 11th and met Detective Sergeant Devine. "He told me that he knew the five people arrested to be members of the Provisional IRA," he added.
Detective Sergeant Devine also told him that he had spoken to Detective Superintendent Peter Maguire who was their superior officer and he had given him certain instructions. Detective Inspector Hogan said at that stage he returned to SDU headquarters at Harcourt Square.
It was the eighteenth day of the trial of five men. The trial has heard that gardaí recovered a CS gas canister, a stun gun, pick axe handles, balaclavas and a fake garda jacket after five men were seen acting suspiciously around three vehicles by an off duty Special Branch officer.
The court has heard that gardaí found four of the men seated on the floor of a transit van and two of them were dressed in fake garda uniforms.
The five Dublin men have pleaded not guilty to membership of an illegal organisation styling itself the Irish Republican Army, otherwise Óglaigh na hÉireann, 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.
The trial is continuing.