Judge orders inquiry into detention of convicted IRA members

A High Court judge has ordered an inquiry into the legality of the detention of five Dublin men jailed in 2005 after being found guilty of being members of the IRA.

A High Court judge has ordered an inquiry into the legality of the detention of five Dublin men jailed in 2005 after being found guilty of being members of the IRA.

The five: Thomas Gilson (aged 26), of Bawnlea Avenue, Jobstown, Tallaght; Patrick Brennan (aged 43), of Lindisfarne Avenue, Clondalkin; Sean O'Donnell (aged 34), of Castle Drive, Sandymount; John Troy (aged 27), of Donard Ave and Stephen Birney (aged 33), of Conquerhill Road, Clontarf, are currently incarcerated in Portlaoise.

In February 2005, all five were jailed for four years at the Special Criminal Court after being found guilty for membership of an illegal organisation styling itself the Irish Republican Army, otherwise Oglaigh na hEireann, otherwise the IRA on October 11, 2002.

Today at the High Court, lawyers for the men argued that in light of the recent Supreme Court judgment, which stated that the failure to charge Co Louth man Barry O'Brien "immediately" after his rearrest on April 8, 2004, meant his subsequent detention for more than 15 hours, prior to his being charged before the non-jury Special Criminal Court the following day, was unlawful.

Last month the Supreme court ruled that Mr O'Brien (aged 34), Mountain Court, Dundalk was unlawfully before the SCC and it did not have jurisdiction to try him.

The court found that the detention was unlawful because Mr O'Brien was not "charged forthwith".

Mr O'Brien successfully brought judicial review proceedings against the Special Criminal Court and the DPP, aimed at quashing the SCC's decision of December 14, 2005, that he was lawfully before it on a charge of membership of an unlawful organisation.

The court was told that in October 2002, all five men were detained for periods of between 13 and 15 hours before they were brought before and charged at the Special Criminal Court.

Mr Justice Iarfhlaith Ó Neill ordered that an inquiry, under the provisions of Article 40 of the constitution, into the legality of the men's detention, take place at the High Court at 11am tomorrow morning, in the presence of all five applicants.

The Judge said that the DPP should be made a party to the proceedings.

During the men's 24-day trial, the Special Criminal Court heard all five were arrested after an off-duty Special Branch detective noticed suspicious activity around two cars and a van.

The court heard gardaí recovered a large quantity of Sinn Féin posters, including ones for Sinn Féin TD Mr Aengus O Snodaigh, from a Nissan Almera car in which they also found a stun gun, a CS gas

cannister, a blue flashing light and a beacon.

Gardaí also found two pick axe handles, a lump hammer, three portable radios, cable ties, balaclavas and fake Garda jacket in the van.

Four of the men were found seated on the floor of the van and two of them, Gilson and O'Donnell, were dressed in fake Garda uniforms, the trial was told.

After conviction, Chief Superintendent Peter Maguire told the SCC that all the men were members of the Provisional IRA, were attached to that organisation's Dublin Brigade and were answerable directly to its leadership.

Last year an appeal against their convictions was rejected by the Court of Criminal Appeal.

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