Saturday 20 January 2018

Dad-of-six arrested following Alan Ryan's funeral jailed for IRA membership

Brian Kavanagh

A father-of-six arrested after a garda investigation in to paramilitary activity at the funeral of Alan Ryan has been jailed by the Special Criminal Court for two years for IRA membership.

Dublin man Nathan Kinsella (35) had pleaded guilty to membership of an unlawful organisation styling itself the Irish Republican Army, otherwise Oglaigh na hEireann, otherwise the IRA on September 13, 2012.

Dissident republican Alan Ryan was shot dead outside his home in Clongriffin in North Dublin in September 2012.  Kinsella, who was himself shot two months later, was due to stand trial at the Special Criminal Court in February, however the non-jury court issued a bench warrant for his arrest after he failed to appear.

On February 20 Kinsella was arrested by gardai in a gym in Cabra and brought back before the court.

Detective Superintendent Thomas Maguire today (Thursday) told Mr Tom O’Connell SC, for the State, that had the case gone to trial there would be of evidence of paramilitary activity at the funeral of Alan Ryan.

Mr O’Connell handed the court a book of photographs from the funeral, one of which Det Supt Maguire said showed Nathan Kinsella carrying the coffin of Mr Ryan. 

He agreed that during the funeral shots were discharged over the coffin outside the home of Mr Ryan, while there were stewards in attendance wearing “32 CSM” emblems on their sleeves and many who wore black trousers, white shirts and black ties.

Det Supt Maguire agreed that gardai who searched Mr Kinsella’s apartment on September 13, 2012 removed a cover from an extractor fan over a cooker in the kitchen and found three pieces of paper.

He agreed that on the first page the author stated: “I understand that I went against army orders by not going to my OC,” while the second page made reference to financial transactions involving large sums of €120,000, €20,000 and €60,000 accompanied by various names.

Det Supt Maguire agreed that there were also references to a Glock firearm and two shotguns, references to a person still having those weapons and a statement that the weapons had been given back.

He told Mr O’Connell that Kinsella was arrested and interviewed, where he denied membership but admitted he had been a friend of Alan Ryan for six years and had attended the funeral.

Det Supt Maguire agreed that in a garda interview where Section 2 of the Offences Against the State (Amendment) Act 1998 was invoked, which allows a judge or jury to draw certain inferences from an accused’s failure or refusal to answer material questions relating to their arrest, Kinsella did not explain the document when asked about it.

He agreed that if the matter went to trial, Chief Superintendent Kevin Donohoe would have given evidence that it is his belief Kinsella was a member of an unlawful organisation within the State on September 13, 2012.

Dept Supt Maguire agreed that there would also have been some evidence of Kinsella’s association with various people convicted of membership of an unlawful organisation by the Special Criminal Court.

He agreed with counsel for the defendant, Mr Diarmaid MacGuinness SC, that it was not suggested Kinsella had fired a weapon or was in possession of one at the funeral.

Although there was no ballistic evidence that live rounds were fired, Det Supt Maguire told the court that from his own investigations it was his firm belief that live rounds were discharged at the funeral. 

Det Supt Maguire agreed that a fingerprint from another person was found on the document uncovered in Kinsella’s apartment, which gave an account from someone other than Kinsella in relation to monies and where they had gone to.

He agreed that a number of people named on the document had been shot and told the court that Kinsella himself was the victim of a shooting.

Det Supt Maguire agreed that Kinsella had been originally brought up in Sallynoggin and came from a decent, hard working and law-abiding family.

He agreed with presiding judge Mr Justice Paul Butler that it was “highly unusual” for a person to plead guilty to a membership charge.

Wearing a grey fleece and grey trousers, Kinsella then took to the stand where he agreed with Mr McGuinness that he had disassociated himself from the IRA and was now on the A Wing in Portlaoise Prison, where there were no paramilitary prisoners.

Kinsella agreed that he was in fear for his life having been shot in November 2012, and he gave an undertaking not to associate with any unlawful organisation when he is released from prison.

Mr McGuinness handed the court letters from Kinsella’s mother and two of his sisters, in which he said the common resonance was that the death of Kinsella’s father in a motorbike accident when the defendant was young was a turning point in his life.

Counsel said that Kinsella had six children aged between six and 17 years old and had no substantial previous convictions.

Mr Justice Butler said it seemed that Kinsella came within the middle range of seriousness for the offence of IRA membership and after taking his background and lack of previous convictions in to account, the court considered the appropriate sentence to be one of four years.

After taking in to consideration the plea of guilty, which saved the court time, Mr Justice Butler said this was worth one year, bringing the sentence of the court to three years.

He said the court had noted the undertaking given, and as it could impose certain conditions that can be monitored, it had come to the view that it should suspend the final year of that sentence.

Mr Justice Butler said the sentence would be backdated to February 1 of this year, to take in to account the 11 weeks Kinsella has already spent in custody.

Kinsella then entered a bond before the court registrar on the sum of €500, undertaking not to commit any further scheduled offence in the future, not to associate with any known members of an unlawful organisation or anyone convicted of a scheduled offence before the Special Criminal Court for one year after his release.

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