Ex-IRA chief denies admitting being at kidnap site

A former IRA chief charged over a violent kidnapping today denied implicating himself in the crime under intense police questioning and accused detectives of making up the claim.

A former IRA chief charged over a violent kidnapping today denied implicating himself in the crime under intense police questioning and accused detectives of making up the claim.

Brendan McFarlane is alleged to have told officers investigating the 1983 abduction of supermarket boss Don Tidey he was at the wooded hideaway where the businessman had been held captive.

The state also claim during interrogation at Dundalk garda station after his January 1998 arrest he said he was prepared for the worst and prepared for “the big one”.

But taking the stand for the first time in his trial at Dublin’s Special Criminal Court McFarlane denied he made the remarks.

He also rejected prosecution claims the first time he heard there was fingerprint evidence placing him at the hideaway was during questioning, claiming he read about it in a news magazine years before his arrest.

“I did not my Lord,” he replied when asked if he made the alleged admissions.

He told counsel for the Director of Public Prosecutions Edward Comyn that while the notes of each of his interviews were read over to him, the alleged admissions were never put to him.

Mr Comyn asked if he believed the comments were added some time later, he said: “That’s precisely what I’m saying my Lord.”

``Bik'' McFarlane, of Jamaica Street, Belfast, took the stand after the three judge court rejected an application by his barrister Hugh Hartnett SC.

Mr Hartnett claimed McFarlane, 56, was being questioned by detectives under duress while in custody on January 5 and 6 1998.

He said on three occasions McFarlane was interrogated by officers under the now outdated Section 52 of the Offences Against the State Act, which compelled suspects to respond or face committing a criminal offence.

But when Mr Justice Paul Butler, presiding, rejected the application Mr Hartnett called McFarlane to give evidence.

With grey hair and dressed in a blue short-sleeved shirt and navy jeans, the ex-IRA boss told the court he was warned by detectives if he did not answer he could face up to six months in prison.

During cross examination, Mr Comyn put it to McFarlane the first time he heard there was fingerprint evidence was during one of the garda interviews.

Earlier Mr Comyn argued against Mr Hartnett’s application insisting McFarlane had not made the alleged admissions in custody under duress, but only after he was confronted with fingerprint evidence against him.

However, in the witness box McFarlane said he knew of the evidence before he was arrested as he had read it in a news magazine in the mid 1990s.

“It was no surprise to me that they put it to me that they had fingerprint evidence,” McFarlane said.

McFarlane was jailed in the Maze prison near Belfast in 1974 for his part in the IRA bombing of a bar in the city’s Shankill Road in which five people were killed.

He was the head of the Provisional IRA prisoners at the Maze and escaped in the mass breakout by 38 inmates in September 1983.

He was arrested in Amsterdam in early 1986, extradited to Northern Ireland and released on parole from the Maze in 1997.

He was arrested over his alleged involvement in the Tidey kidnapping on January 5 1998 as he travelled on a commuter bus between Dublin and Belfast.

He has pleaded not guilty to one charge of imprisoning Mr Tidey and two firearms offences.

The trial continues tomorrow.

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