Sunday 22 April 2018

Dissident jailed for 11 years for Prince Charles bomb plot

Seamus McGrane
Seamus McGrane

Daniel Hickey

A dissident republican leader who plotted an explosion during a State visit by Prince Charles has been jailed for 11 and a half years.

Seamus McGrane (63), of Little Road, Dromiskin, Co Louth, was convicted in October by the non-jury Special Criminal Court of directing the activities of an unlawful organisation, styling itself the Irish Republican Army, between April 19 and May 13, 2015.

McGrane, leader of a splinter group formed in 2008 and known as Óglaigh na hÉireann, is only the second person to be convicted of directing terrorism in the State. His ally Michael McKevitt was jailed for 20 years in 2003 for directing terrorism.

On October 31, the court found that McGrane discussed an operation involving explosives in the run-up to the State visit of Prince Charles.

A bomb timer and power unit used by Seamus McGrane
A bomb timer and power unit used by Seamus McGrane

He was also found guilty of membership of the IRA between January 18, 2010 and May 13, 2015. He had denied both charges.

He was also sentenced yesterday to six and a half years in prison for IRA membership.

Sentencing McGrane, Ms Justice Isobel Kennedy said that it was "a most serious offence".

The judge also noted that the court had received a letter from Eamon O Cuiv TD, in which the Fianna Fáil member expressed the opinion that McGrane was "fully supportive" of Mr O Cuiv's efforts to facilitate the peace process.

The judge said, however, that the TD's opinions were "unconvincing" in the light of McGrane's history.

The defendant had two previous convictions. The first was for IRA membership and dated back to 1976. The second conviction, from 2001, related to training others in the use of firearms for which he was jailed for four years.

In October, the court heard evidence from two audio recordings, from April and May 2015, of McGrane and Donal O'Coisdealbha in conversation in The Coachman's Inn on the Airport Road in Dublin - a pub that had been bugged by Garda detectives.

McGrane issued instructions to Mr O'Coisdealbha to contact a person he referred to as the "motorbike man" to collect ingredients required to manufacture explosives. He had also made statements about providing bomb-making material for others.

He was arrested six days before the planned attack.

Searches were conducted at McGrane's home in Dromiskin, and a house at Harbour Court in Courttown, Co Wexford, and a locker at Maynooth University.

A "significant amount" of explosive material was found in these locations, Ms Justice Kennedy said.

Speaking after the sentencing outside the Criminal Courts of Justice, Detective Chief Superintendent Tom Maguire, of the Special Detective Unit (SDU), said that it was a "very significant conviction" for An Garda Síochána.

Irish Independent

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