A witness in the Adrian Donohoe murder trial has said a suggestion from the defence that he was a member of the 'Ryan crew' or the 'Dublin Real IRA' was "completely false" and a "ridiculous statement", the court heard.
Daniel Cahill (28), a barman living in New York, has been giving evidence via video link in the trial of Aaron Brady (29), who denies capital murder.
The witness has said that on three occasions while living in the US the accused told him he had shot a garda.
Yesterday, under cross-examination, Mr Cahill told the court that he was a childhood friend of the late Vincent Ryan and knew Dean Evans, a convicted killer, from the gym he went to - but denied he was the member of any crew.
Mr Brady has pleaded not guilty to the capital murder of Detective Garda Adrian Donohoe (41), who was then a member of An Garda Siochana acting in the course of his duty, at Lordship Credit Union in Bellurgan, Dundalk, Co Louth, on January 25, 2013.
The defendant, of New Road in Crossmaglen, Co Armagh, also denies robbery of around €7,000 in cash and assorted cheques from Pat Bellew at the same location on the same date.
Yesterday afternoon, Daniel Cahill was being cross-examined by defence counsel Justin McQuade BL, who put it to him a number of times that he was a member of the 'Ryan crew', or the 'Dublin Real IRA'.
The witness vehemently denied this, describing it as "completely false" and a "ridiculous statement".
Mr McQuade later apologised to Mr Cahill for suggesting that he was "engaged in dissident IRA activity", which was described as an "outrageous question" and "unacceptable" by trial judge Mr Justice Michael White.
Mr Cahill said he knew Alan Ryan, known as the leader of the Real IRA in Dublin and shot dead in 2012, through his childhood friendship with his younger brother Vincent Ryan.
"Vincent wore a bulletproof vest, and I didn't feel comfortable being around anybody who wore a bulletproof vest," he added.
The jury was also shown a picture taken from his Facebook page in which Mr Cahill identified himself and Dean Evans, convicted of the murder of Peter Butterly at the Huntsman Inn in 2013.
The court heard the image was uploaded 24 days before that murder and Mr Cahill said he had known Evans from the gym he went to.
Mr Cahill told the court that he left for the US in 2013 and he "didn't want to get caught up in anything going down, there were a lot of people getting hurt around Vincent and I separated myself from that".
Mr McQuade put it to him that the shooting of a garda would be a "red-hot topic" among the people he knew back in Ireland, to which the witness replied "yes", but added the first time he heard about the details of the shooting was in 2017.
He said he was working in a bar near Times Square in New York on St Patrick's Day of that year when he first heard the name Adrian Donohoe from off-duty gardai drinking in the pub.
Mr Cahill also told the court that he was giving evidence in the trial because he chose to, and not because he has to.
Mr McQuade put it to the witness that he was found hiding in the attic of his New York home by Homeland Security in July 2019 and his "life in America flashed before his eyes".
Defence counsel also put it to the witness that he was hiding from the Immigration Customs and Enforcement (ICE) agency.
Mr Cahill denied this, and said he felt his life was in danger after hearing a loud bang while sleeping.
The witness said he was aware ICE were deporting people who had no status but that he was not one of these people and that he was married to an American citizen.
Mr Cahill said he was asked if he wanted to speak to gardai and that the agents "made it clear" that his rights were not infringed and he was told he did not have to speak to gardai unless he chose to.
"I'm here to give evidence because I chose to, not because I have to," he added.
The cross-examination continues this afternoon.