Tuesday 25 September 2018

Defence civil servant with New IRA links jailed over firearms

The incident has forced the department to carry out a review of its security protocol when carrying out background checks on staff members. Stock Image
The incident has forced the department to carry out a review of its security protocol when carrying out background checks on staff members. Stock Image

Robin Schiller

A government department is expected to carry out a review of its security protocol after an employee linked to the New IRA was convicted of firearms offences.

Civil servant Michael Gilmartin (47), who was employed by the Department of Defence, was this month given a five-year jail term after being convicted of offences linked to dissident republican activity.

He pleaded guilty at the Special Criminal Court to being in possession of a handgun, a sawn-off shotgun and ammunition in 2016.

The Irish Independent has learned Gilmartin was working for the Department of Defence and employed in a security position at a naval base in Cork.

Since his conviction earlier this month, department officials have written to the dissident republican - who is now housed in Portlaoise Prison - to inform him his employment has been terminated.

The incident has also forced the department to carry out a review of its security protocol when carrying out background checks on staff members.

It is understood Gilmartin did not have access to any sensitive security information in his role at the naval base.

A spokeswoman for the Department of Defence said it did "not comment on individual employment matters".

"Security is kept under constant review by the department and it would not be appropriate to go into further detail," she added.

On February 5, Gilmartin, of Cluain Ard, Newtown, Cobh, Co Cork, was convicted after he pleaded guilty to possessing firearms including a magazine suitable for a 9mm Parabellum pistol, and a double-barrelled sawn-off shotgun.

He also admitted the possession of 14 rounds of 9mm ammunition and eight shotgun cartridges in Cobh on December 14, 2016.

The court had previously heard that in late 2016, when monitoring a group of subversives that was calling itself the New IRA, gardaí had become aware that Gilmartin was to come into possession of firearms on December 14.

Three detective units and members of the Armed Support Unit went to Cobh on that date and Gilmartin was seen in the vicinity of a petrol station in Newtown in Cobh.

He was carrying a black Umbro backpack with an FAI logo on it.

Mr Justice Tony Hunt, presiding over the case, said that Gilmartin's "level of involvement was limited to logistical support".

Irish Independent

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