Members of the public to be excluded from court during GNS evidence

The Special Criminal Court has ruled that members of the public should be excluded from the court when six members of the Garda National Surveillance Unit give evidence in the trial of eight Dublin men accused of IRA membership.

Members of the public to be excluded from court during GNS evidence

The Special Criminal Court has ruled that members of the public should be excluded from the court when six members of the Garda National Surveillance Unit give evidence in the trial of eight Dublin men accused of IRA membership.

It is the second consecutive trial that the court has excluded the public from the court for evidence given by NSU members.

The court made a similar order during the fifty five day trial of three men for the murder of dissident republican Peter Butterly, which collapsed last week.

Mr Justice Paul Butler, presiding at the three-judge non-jury court, ruled that the six members of the NSU should not be named in court and that certain parts of their evidence relating to the "tradecraft and methodology" of the NSU cannot be published by the media.

The court ruling came after Detective Superintendent Willie Johnson, the officer in charge of the NSU, gave evidence that if the members of his unit were identified their "lives and well being" could be in danger.

The court has heard that the eight men were arrested after a garda swoop at a used car sales lot in Clondalkin on Good Friday, 2013.

Prosecuting counsel Ms Tara Burns SC said that gardaí who searched the area found cable ties. balaclavas, a Glock pistol, a baseball bat and pepper spray among other items.

The eight are: Kevin Braney (aged 40), of Glenshane Crescent, Tallaght , Des Christie (aged 50), of Liam Mellows Road, Finglas, Eamon McNamee (aged 34), of Larkfield Square, Lucan, Hubert Duffy (aged 47), of George’s Place in Dublin 1, William Jackson (aged 55), of Dooncourt, Poppintree, Declan Phelan (aged 33), of Lanndale Lawns, Tallaght, John Brock (aged 42), of Glenview Park, Tallaght, and Darren Murphy (aged 44), of Rory O’Connor House in Dublin 1.

All eight have pleaded not guilty to membership of an illegal organisation styling itself the Irish Republican Army, otherwise Oglaigh na hÉireann, otherwise the IRA on March 29, 2013.

Ms Burns said that members of the Garda National Surveillance Unit observed the eight at various locations in Finglas and Clondalkin on the morning of March 29, 2013.

She said that around midday members of the Emergency Response Unit entered the yard of a used car sales lot in Clondalkin and arrested the eight men.

In follow up searches of two vans, an office and kitchen, gardaí found cables ties, gloves, balaclavas, a baseball bat, a lump hammer, a pepper spray and a Glock pistol.

Ms Burns said that after their arrest the eight men were interviewed at various garda stations.

She said some of them made no reply when questioned, some of them denied membership of the IRA and some of them gave answers to garda questions which were untrue.

She said the court would be invited to draw inferences from the responses of the eight men to garda questions.

Ms Burns said that the prosecution case against the men would rely on the sightings of the accused by the National Surveillance Unit, items found after their arrest, their responses to garda questioning and the opinion evidence of Detective Chief Superintendent Peter Kirwan.

The trial is continuing.

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