‘Wig-wearing’ man given four year sentence for IRA membership
A Dublin man arrested while wearing a wig following a garda surveillance operation has been given a four-year sentence for membership of the IRA.
John Daly (49) of Dunsink Gardens, Finglas was convicted last month of membership of an unlawful organisation within the State, namely the Irish Republican Army, otherwise Oglaigh na hEireann, otherwise the IRA on January 3, 2012.
Mr Justice Paul Butler presiding at the Special Criminal Court handed down a four-year sentence and backdated it to May 9, 2013 for time spent in custody.
The court heard Daly has two previous convictions - he was convicted by a court in Antwerp, Belgium for possession of firearms and weapons of war on April 29, 1991 and received a one-year suspended sentence.
He also has a public order conviction on May 14, 2004, the court heard.
Father-of-three Daly is a taxi driver and has an interest in a corner shop in Finglas, the three-judge court heard.
Detective Inspector Michael Gibbons told the court TODAY that Daly was arrested along with another man following a surveillance operation in the Blanchardstown and Hartstown areas, on January 3, 2012.
He told Mr Garnet Orange BL prosecuting that a car pulled into a shop on the Clonsilla Road and gardai decided to move in and arrest the occupants of the vehicle.
Det Insp Gibbons told the court the accused was wearing a brown wig, black hat and gloves at the time and was arrested at the scene.
The car had been stolen in Castleknock the previous month and the registration plates had been taken from a car in Stillorgan.
When detained Daly did not answer any of the questions put to him and the prosecution relied on evidence of Chief Superintendent Kevin Donohoe, the court heard.
The commander of the Special Detective Unit testified during his trial last month that he believed Daly was a member of the IRA on that date.
Chief Superintendent Kevin Donohoe told court that he had confidential information but was claiming privilege in respect of that. He said he first held the belief that Mr Daly was in an illegal organisation in 2009.
Mr Justice Butler previously told the court he was satisfied that the Chief Superintendents belief was not only honest, but that it was based upon his experience and knowledge of the accused.
He said that belief was strongly corroborated by the failure of the accused to answer material questions.
Most of the questions put to the accused in all four interviews related to his movements in the course of the surveillance operation and were clearly material questions, he read from the courts written judgment.
He quite simply failed to answer those questions, he continued.
He said the court was entitled to draw an inference that Daly was a member of the IRA and the court convicted him.
Mr Paul Greene SC defending said Daly was firm in his instructions that he was not a member of the IRA.
Mr Greene said his client was not in a position to challenge the evidence for personal reasons he could not divulge.
He said Dalys most serious conviction was when he was 27 but there had been nothing of that scale since.
Mr Greene also said there was a character reference before the court from a school football club.
He said although his client was disguised at the time of his arrest there was nothing more sinister.