Real IRA membership trial starts in Dublin

The trial has opened at the Special Criminal Court in Dublin of three Cork men and two Limerick men accused of membership of the Real IRA.

The trial has opened at the Special Criminal Court in Dublin of three Cork men and two Limerick men accused of membership of the Real IRA.

Prosecuting counsel Mr John Edwards SC told the court that it was alleged the men were members of a dissident branch of an illegal organisation styling itself the Real IRA in December 2003.

The five men are Ciaran O' Dwyer (aged 50), of Castletroy View, Limerick, John Murphy (aged 25), of Ashburton House, Kilbarry, Old Mallow Road, Cork, Ultan Larkin (aged 34), of The Bungalow, Farranshone, Limerick, Gerard Varian (aged 46), of Bride Valley View, Fairhill, Cork and Aidan O'Driscoll (aged 25) of Glenheights Park, Ballyvolane, Cork.

They all pleaded not guilty to membership of an illegal organisation styling itself Oglaigh na hEireann, otherwise the Irish Republican Army, otherwise the IRA on December 15, 2003.

Mr Edwards said that the principal evidence against Murphy, Varian and O’ Driscoll would be the belief of Chief Superintendent Michael Mc Andrew that they were each members of an illegal organisation.

He said the principal evidence against O’Dwyer and Larkin would be the testimony of Assistant Commissioner Gerard Kelly that he believed they were members of an illegal organisation.

Counsel also told the court that there would be evidence that Varian and Murphy were observed collecting two wreaths from a florist in Cork in April 2003. They were seen leaving one of the wreaths at St Finbarr’s cemetery and a card with the wreath bore the words: "Let the fight go on. Real IRA, Ist Brigade, Ist Battalion."

The second wreath was recovered at another location the next day and it had a card which bore the words: "Let the fight go on. Real IRA, Ist Cork Brigade, Ist Battalion."

Mr Edwards said that Murphy was also observed by gardai at a pub in Blarney St in Cork on February 9, 2003 with the accused O’ Driscoll and tickets were on sale for "republican prisoners of war" and one ticket was bought by a member of the Gardaí.

The trial is expected to last five weeks.

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