Five jailed for IRA membership

Five Dublin men were each jailed for four years by the Special Criminal Court today for membership of the Provisional IRA.

Five Dublin men were each jailed for four years by the Special Criminal Court today for membership of the Provisional IRA.

The five Dublin men 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 31, of Conquerhill Road, Clontarf.

They had all denied membership of the IRA on October 11, 2002.

Jailing the men, Mr Justice Diarmuid O' Donovan, presiding, told them: "The mind boggles as to what you were up to. Whatever it was we are quite sure that it was up to no good and it was associated with your membership of the IRA."

The court jailed each of the men for four years but suspended the final two months to take into account time they had already spent in custody.

Chief Superintendent Peter Maguire told the court all the men were members of the Provisional IRA and were attached to that organisation's Dublin Brigade and answerable directly to the leadership.

During the 24-day trial the court heard that the five men were arrested after an off duty Special Branch detective noticed suspicious activity around three vehicles.

The court heard gardaí recovered a large quantity of Sinn Féin posters, including election posters, from a car in which they also found a stun gun and CS gas canister after the men's arrest.

Gardaí also found pick-axe handles, balaclavas and a fake garda jacket from a van and four of the men were found seated on the floor of the van, two of them dressed in fake garda uniforms.

Convicting the men today Mr Justice Diarmuid O' Donovan, presiding, said: "Whatever purpose the accused had for being in each other's company on the evening of October 10, 2002, and whatever they intended to do with the items which were found in the van in which they were arrested, and in the Nissan Almera car with which they were also associated on that evening, the court has no doubt but that they were up to no good by which the court means some criminal activity.

"Certainly, notwithstanding that an election poster bearing the name Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD was also found in the Nissan Almera car, the court is satisfied that whatever the accused had in mind on that evening, it was a far cry from electioneering on behalf of Sinn Féin which was the purpose for which the van in which they were arrested had been lent to the Sinn Féin organisation by its owner."

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