Court upholds arrest of suspected IRA gang

The Special Criminal Court today rejected a claim from five men accused of IRA membership that their arrest and detention was unlawful.

The Special Criminal Court today rejected a claim from five men accused of IRA membership that their arrest and detention was unlawful.

The three-judge court found that gardaí did not abuse their powers when arresting the men in Bray, Co Wicklow on October 11, 2002.

Mr Justice Diarmuid O’Donovan, presiding, said: “The court is satisfied beyond any doubt that each of these accused was lawfully arrested on the morning of October 11.”

The five men were discovered acting suspiciously in three vehicles by an off-duty Special Branch officer.

The Special Criminal Court has heard that four of the men were seated on the floor of a transit van and two of them were dressed in fake garda uniforms.

Gardaí found a stun gun, a CS gas canister and a large quantity of Sinn Féin posters including election posters for Sinn Féin TD Aengus O’Snodaigh in a Nissan Almera car. They also recovered cable ties, car number plates, a blue flashing emergency light and a roll of tape.

In the van, there were a number of items including a sledge hammer, pickaxe handles and balaclavas.

The five men have pleaded not guilty to the charge of IRA membership.

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

The trial which has now entered its 20th day, is continuing.

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