Garda 'saw accused lay wreath at republican plot', court hears

A Garda Inspector told the Special Criminal Court today that he saw two men place a Real IRA wreath at a republican plot in a Cork cemetery on Easter Saturday in 2003.

A Garda Inspector told the Special Criminal Court today that he saw two men place a Real IRA wreath at a republican plot in a Cork cemetery on Easter Saturday in 2003.

Inspector Michael Cummins, who was off duty at the time, said that he recovered a note attached to the wreath which read: "Let the fight go on. Real IRA. 1st Brigade. 1st Batt."

He said he saw Gerard Varian and John Murphy place the wreath at a monument at the republican plot in St Finbarr’s Cemetery in Cork after he followed them from a nearby shopping centre.

He was giving evidence on the sixth day of the trial of three Cork men and two Limerick men who 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 Oglaigh na hEireann, otherwise the Irish Republican Army, otherwise the IRA on December 15, 2003.

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

Inspector Cummins said that he followed the accused Varian’s van after he spotted it at the Wilton Shopping Centre in Cork. He followed the van to St Finbarr’s Cemetery and he saw Murphy leaving the van and carrying a wreath.

He saw Varian and Murphy walk to a republican monument and place the wreath at the monument. Inspector Cummins said the two men then returned to the van and drove off.

The Inspector agreed with Mr Feargal Kavanagh SC, for Varian, that the republican monument commemorated "some of the founding fathers of the State".

Retired Detective Garda Patrick Mc Gillicuddy told the court that on Easter Sunday morning he spotted a wreath at a republican plaque at Jail Cross on Cork’s southside.

He took possession of the wreath and an attached card which read: "Let the fight go on. Real IRA, 1st Cork Brigade. 1st Batt."

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 has told the court 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 tomorrow

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