A DUBLIN man arrested while wearing a wig following a garda surveillance operation has been given a four-year sentence for IRA membership.
John Daly (49), of Dunsink Gardens, Finglas, was convicted last month of membership of 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, 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.
Daly and two other Irishmen were arrested in the city of Antwerp in December 1990, days before a visit to Belgium by Diana, Princess of Wales.
Police found a gun, three Kalashnikov rifles, two automatic rifles, a revolver and a pistol in an apartment they had rented.
Father-of-three Daly is a taxi driver and has an interest in a corner shop in Finglas, the Special Criminal Court has heard.
Yesterday, Detective Inspector Michael Gibbons told the court that Daly was arrested along with another man following a surveillance operation in the Blanchardstown and Hartstown areas, on January 3, 2012.
He told Garnet Orange, prosecuting, that a car pulled into a shop on the Clonsilla Road and gardai decided to move in and arrest the occupants.
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 Supt 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 Daly was in an illegal organisation in 2009.
Mr Justice Butler previously told the court he was satisfied that the Chief Superintendent's 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 court's 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.
Paul Greene, defending said Daly was firm in his instructions that he was not a member of the IRA.