IRA accused were observed at hotel meeting, court hears

Four men accused of membership of an illegal organisation were observed by undercover gardaí arriving at a Co Cork hotel, the Special Criminal Court heard today.

Four men accused of membership of an illegal organisation were observed by undercover gardaí arriving at a Co Cork hotel, the Special Criminal Court heard today.

Three men from Cork and two from Limerick have denied membership of an illegal organisation.

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

Detective Garda Richard Murphy was part of a covert operation at the Deerpark Hotel in Cork in September 2003, following confidential information received by gardaí.

Det Gd Murphy arrived at the hotel car park at 12.30pm.

"I noted the car owned by Varian entered the car park. He and John Murphy got out and entered the hotel," Det Gd Murphy said. Both men were "well known" to him, the court heard.

A short time later, a white van parked next to Varian's car. "I immediately recognised Ciaran O'Dwyer," he said. A person Det Gd Murphy "knew to be" Larkin was a passenger in the van.

Larkin went into the hotel and exited from the front door, carrying a white plastic bag. A few minutes later, Varian and Murphy left together in the direction of Cork.

The surveillance ended after 45 minutes, when the vehicles left the car park.

The court is expected to view videotaped footage of the hotel "meeting" next Tuesday.

Prosecuting counsel Mr John Edwards SC has said the five men were allegedly members of the Real IRA.

Assistant Garda Commissioner Jerry Kelly has told the court that he believed Ciaran O' Dwyer and Ultan Larkin were members of an unlawful organisation on December 15, 2003. He said his belief was based on confidential information available to him prior to December 15, 2003.

Detective Chief Superintendent Michael Mc Andrew said he believed on the basis of confidential information that Murphy, Varian and O'Driscoll were each members of an unlawful organisation on December 15, 2003.

The trial continues next week.

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