Three men convicted of being IRA members after tip-off
THREE men arrested after gardai received a tip-off about an imminent "tiger kidnapping" were yesterday convicted of IRA membership.
Gerard McGarrigle (46), of Mount Carmel Heights, Strabane, Co Tyrone; Desmond Donnelly (58), of Drumall, Lisnarick, Co Fermanagh; and Jim Murphy (61), of Floraville, Enniskillen, Co Fermanagh, had each denied membership of an illegal organisation styling itself on the Irish Republican Army, otherwise Oglaigh na hEireann, otherwise the IRA, on February 22.
Senior gardai believe that the three are key members of the Continuity IRA in the north-west region.
The Special Criminal Court in Dublin heard during the trial that the three accused men were arrested at a garda checkpoint outside Letterkenny, Co Donegal in the early hours of February 22 last.
The accused men told gardai that they had driven to Letterkenny in the hope of getting security work at the Golden Grill nightclub.
Chief Superintendent Michael O'Sullivan gave evidence that he believed, on the basis of intelligence he had received, that the three men were IRA members on February 22 and were carrying out an operation for the group.
The court heard that a number of items were found in a car used by the men when it was stopped at the garda checkpoint at Oldtown. These included an imitation firearm, latex gloves, cable ties and black bin liners.
Mr Justice Paul Butler was satisfied that gardai received intelligence relating to an alleged plot by dissident republicans involving either a "tiger kidnapping or robbery" and that the intelligence included the names of the three accused.
"While parts of the intelligence may have been faulty or incomplete, it is clear that there was a basis for it, in that the accused were found together at or about 12.30am in a car outside Letterkenny, far from where they lived,'' he added.
The judge said that it had not been established that the items found in the car were connected with any plot. But he said that the court was satisfied that the failure of the accused to answer "material" questions amounted to corroboration of the belief evidence of Chief Supt O'Sullivan.
The court remanded the three men in custody for sentencing on December 15.