A Limerick man who is on bail on a charge of IRA membership will be allowed to travel to Lithuania for a third time despite the objections of gardai.
The Special Criminal Court this morning acceded to an application for an easing of the bail restrictions imposed on 31-year-old Thomas McMahon, who is married to a Lithuanian national, until February 10 to allow him go on holiday to Lithuania.
Mr McMahon and his co-accused Noel Noonan (34) were arrested in February last year on the N24 near Cahir, Co Tipperary by members of the Special Detective Unit and other garda units as part of an investigation in to the activities of dissident republicans.
Mr McMahon, of Ros Fearna, Murroe, and Mr Noonan, with an address at St. Patrick’s Hostel, Clare Street, are each charged with membership of an unlawful organisation within the State styling itself the Irish Republican Army, otherwise Oglaigh na hEireann, otherwise the IRA on February 7th, 2013.
In June of last year the non-jury court allowed Mr McMahon, a father-of-two who had previously worked as a chef in Bunratty Castle, to travel to Lithuania to attend a family wedding. The following October the Special Criminal Court again varied the bail conditions to allow go on a holiday there.
Counsel for Mr McMahon, Mr Michael Bowman BL, this morning applied for a variation of Mr McMahon’s bail to allow him travel to Lithuania at the weekend.
The court heard that Mr McMahon is due to stand trial on a charge of IRA membership on March 25.
Detective Inspector William Hanrahan of the Special Detective Unit told Sate Solicitor Michael O’Donovan that gardai were objecting to the application as the trial was listed for March, and if Mr McMahon did not return there would be an issue in getting him back.
Det Insp Hanrahan agreed with Mr Bowman that there were no issues with Mr McMahon and that he had returned his passport within 24 hours on the last occasion.
Asked by presiding judge Mr Justice Paul Butler if he had confidence Mr McMahon would come back, Det Insp Hanrahan replied that the accused man had previously been released and had returned, and the issue was that if he did not return there would be trouble getting him back.
Ruling on the application, Mr Justice Butler said the court appreciated that the trial was getting very close but noted Mr McMahon had come back before and was clear it should allow him the variation.
Mr Bowman told the court that the bail surety was in court.
He said that Mr McMahon would return his passport within 24 hours of his return on February 10 and asked that the court suspend the signing-on and residency conditions of the bail from February 1 until that date.