Case against alleged IRA members 'strong', court hears

The case against five men accused of Real IRA membership was "a strong case", a prosecution counsel told the Special Criminal Court in Dublin today.

The case against five men accused of Real IRA membership was "a strong case", a prosecution counsel told the Special Criminal Court in Dublin today.

Mr John Edwards SC said that the State was relying "first and foremost'' on the beliefs of Assistant Commissioner Jerry Kelly and Chief Superintendent Michael Mc Andrew that each of the five were members of an illegal organisation on December 15, 2003.

But Mr Edwards added that there was in respect of each of the accused not just the belief of the gardaí but also evidence to support that belief.

He was closing the prosecution case on the eighteenth 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.

Assistant Commissioner Kelly gave evidence that he believed the accused Larkin and O' Dwyer were members of an illegal organisation. Detective Chief Superintendent Mc Andrew gave evidence that he believed Varian, Larkin and O' Driscoll were each members of an illegal organisation.

Varian, Larkin and O' Dwyer each denied on oath that they were members of the IRA or any illegal organisation.

Mr Edwards said the prosecution was also relying on a wreath delivered by Varian and Murphy to a cemetery in Cork. A note attached to the wreath read: "Let the fight go on. Real IRA. 1st Brigade. 1st Batt."

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