Three alleged Real IRA members were arrested after a major garda surveillance organisation against the dissident terrorist organisation, the Special Criminal Court was told today.
The court heard that members of the Special Detective Unit and the Crime and Security Branch were involved in the four day surveillance operation on the alleged Real IRA members.
Prosecuting counsel Mr Tom O’ Connell SC told the court that detectives found eight timer devices which could have ``both a legitimate and sinister purpose’’ in a bag in the boot of a car they stopped outside Edgeworthstown in Co Longford.
It was the opening day of the trial of three men who have denied membership of an illegal organisation.
Adrian Kirwan,25, a native of Ballymun in Dublin, with an address at Ardilaun Green, Ballymahon Road, Mullingar, Co Westmeath and Colum Wiggins,24, of Annagry, Letterkenny, Co Donegal each pleaded not guilty to membership of an illegal organisation styling itself the Irish Republican Army, otherwise Oglaigh na hEireann, otherwise the IRA on December 5th last year.
Sean Connolly,26, of Bernard Curtis House, Bluebell, Dublin denied membership of an illegal organisation on December 14th.
Mr O’ Connell said that the membership charges referred to the dates that the men were arrested. He said the main prosecution evidence against the men would be the opinion evidence of Detective Chief Superintendent Philip Kelly that Kirwan and Connolly were members and the opinion evidence of Chief Superintendent Noel B. White that Wiggins was a member on the dates in question.
Mr O’ Connell said that the men were alleged to be members of the faction of the IRA known as the Real IRA.
He said that the Special Detective Unit and the Crime and Security Branch monitored Wiggins arriving in Dublin from Letterkenny by bus on December 2nd and meeting the accused Kirwan. Wiggins was observed staying at Kirwan’s house in Mullingar for a number of nights and also meeting Connolly in a laneway in Inchicore.
When detectives stopped Kirwan’s car on outside Edgeworthstown on December 5th they arrested Kirwan and Wiggins and found eight timers in a bag in the car boot.
Mr O’ Connell said Detective Garda John Higgins of the Ballistics Section would give evidence that the timers could be used for both legitimate and sinister purposes.
The court would also hear evidence that the timers were purchased by the accused Connolly at a shop in Rialto. When gardaí searched Kirwan’s home they found a number of firearms manuals, including a US Army sniper training manual and on a computer they found a file containing information in relation to the assembly and operation of an AK 47 rifle.
The trial is continuing.