Monday 23 October 2017

Two Dublin men found guilty of IRA membership

Nicola Donnelly

TWO Dublin men have been been found guilty of IRA membership at the Special Criminal Court.

Derek Palmer (56) of Corduff Green, Blanchardstown, had pleaded not guilty to membership of an unlawful organisation within the State styling itself the Irish Republican Army, otherwise Oglaigh na hEireann, otherwise the IRA on July 14th, 2011.

His co-accused Joe Clarke (4) of Geraldstown Woods, Santry, had also pleaded not guilty to the same offence on the same date.

The court heard Palmer and Nolan were with eight other men in Balbriggan on the night in question when the two cars they were travelling in were stopped and searched by gardai.

Gardai who searched the vehicles uncovered a number of balaclavas, gloves and a sledge hammer handle. A search of the area turned up a number of other items including a copy of Saoirse Nua magazine which included photographs of what has been described as a Republican funeral cortege which gardai believe Palmer and Clarke were in the photo.

Gardai had received a 999 call about a large number of men wearing balaclavas standing outside a house in the Hampton Green area of Balbriggan on the night.

Returning judgement this morning, Mr Justice Paul Barry said the court found both Palmer and Clarke's failure to answer material questions in interview was “wilful, deliberate and calculated” and this corroborated the belief evidence of Chief Superintendent Kevin Donohoe that both were IRA members.

He said both Palmer and Clarke were interviewed five times each pursuant to Section 2 of the Offences Against the State (Amendment) Act 1998, where they both were informed that a judge or jury could draw certain inferences from their failure or refusal to answer material questions relating to their arrests.

Mr Justice Bulter said that over the course of these interviews, Clarke and Palmer had failed to answer or failed to give credible answers to a number of questions concerning their movements and presence in Balbriggan on the night

He said it was noted that Palmer and Clarke had both denied membership of the IRA.

He said the court was satisfied that Chief Supt Donohoe's evidence was “not only an honest belief but is a solid belief upon his experience as a member of An Garda Siochana and his knowledge of each of the accused.

Mr Justice Paul Butler, sitting with Judge Margaret Heneghan and Judge William Hamill, said this belief was strongly corroborated by Palmer and Clarke's failure to answer material questions and convicted both of membership of the IRA on July 14th, 2011.

He remanded Clarke back in custody and Palmer on continuing bail until January 31st next for sentencing.

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