Man charged with IRA membership granted temporary bail despite objections by gardai
A Dublin man who was among seven men charged with IRA membership before the Special Criminal Court has been granted temporary bail despite the objections of gardai.
At a special sitting of the non-jury court last year Brian Nick McBennett (54) of Ard Collum Avenue, Artane, was charged with membership of an unlawful organisation styling itself the Irish Republican Army, otherwise Oglaigh na hEireann, otherwise the IRA on July 3, 2013.
His six co-accused Peter Burns (39) of Glenshane Crescent, Tallaght, Kevin Braney (39) also of Glenshane Crescent, Tallaght, Michael Barr (33) of Carlton Court, Poppintree, Ballymun, John Brock (41) of Glenview Park, Tallaght, Declan Phelan (31) of Lanndale Lawns, Tallaght and Desmond Christie (49) of Liam Mellows Road, Finglas, were all charged with the same offence on the same date.
Four of the seven men - Kevin Braney, Declan Phelan, John Brock and Desmond Christie - were also among eight men arrested on Good Friday last year after a search of a commercial premises in Clondalkin as part of a garda investigation in to the activities of dissident republicans.
They were brought before an Easter Sunday sitting of the non-jury Special Criminal Court where they were charged with membership of an unlawful organisation within the State namely Oglaigh na hEireann, otherwise the Irish Republican Army, otherwise the IRA on March 29th, 2013.
Detective Sergeant Padraig Boyce today (Thursday) told counsel for the State, Mr Vincent Heneghan BL, that gardai were objecting to bail based on the nature and degree of the seriousness of the alleged offence and the evidence supporting the charge.
He told the court that gardai believed Mr McBennett was a senior member of the IRA and that he would continue in his alleged activities if granted bail.
Det Sgt Boyce told Mr Heneghan that gardai also did not believe a sum of €5,000 being offered by way of independent surety for bail was sufficient given the seriousness of the alleged offence.
Counsel for the accused man, Mr Cathal McGreal BL, told the court that the application was for temporary bail to allow Mr McBennett attend the christening of his only grandchild.
Presiding judge Mr Justice Paul Butler said there had been very similar applications before the court and the court was not inclined to encourage people to make an application unless it was for full bail or for a specifically identifiable and real purpose.
He said that gardai had objected to bail on the basis that the accused man would carry on his alleged activities, but the court noted the problem was lessened on an application for temporary bail.
Mr Justice Butler said there was no objection based on the contention that the accused man would not turn up and the court noted one of the main reasons for the application was to allow Mr McBennett attend his grandchild’s christening, which the court appreciated can be a “special occasion”.
He said the court would grant the application for temporary bail from 9am on August 1 to 4pm on August 4 on an independent surety of €8,000.
Mr Justice Butler acceded to a bail condition, proposed by the State, of a 24-hour curfew to be imposed on each day save for August 3.