Three-year jail sentence for man found guilty of IRA membership

A Co Louth man has been jailed for three years and nine months at the Special Criminal Court for IRA membership.

A Co Louth man has been jailed for three years and nine months at the Special Criminal Court for IRA membership.

Barry O'Brien (aged 38), a father-of-three from Mountain Court, Dundalk, was convicted in December last year of membership of an illegal organisation styling itself the Irish Republican Army, otherwise Oglaigh na hEireann, otherwise the IRA on April 6, 2004.

During the three day trial, Chief Superintendent Patrick Magee said in evidence it was his “strong belief” that O' Brien was an IRA member.

Superintendent Magee also said he had known O'Brien for many years on a personal basis, and was very familiar with his activities “and of his involvement with the IRA”.

Garda forensic witnesses told the court they were “satisfied” O'Brien's fingerprints were found on items seized from a car in Dublin in 2003, in which firearms were discovered.

The driver was subsequently convicted of IRA membership, while two other men arrested during the operation pleaded guilty to possession of firearms.

The court was also told that books of raffle tickets for “POWs”, walkie-talkies and €6,000 in cash was discovered when gardai searched O'Brien's house in April 2004.

O'Brien denied these were for IRA fund-raising purposes.

Presiding judge Mr Justice Paul Butler, sitting with Judge Alison Lindsay and Judge Cormac Dunne, said that there was a seven-year gap between the commission of the offence and sentencing as O’Brien had taken judicial review proceedings.

He said that the court noted that as a result of this delay O’Brien had spent a considerable amount of time on bail with his liberty restricted.

Mr Justice Butler said the appropriate sentence was therefore one of three years and nine months to date from January 1 this year.

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