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'Whacker' friend gets three years over INLA link

A PARAPLEGIC INLA man and former associate of Declan 'Whacker' Duffy has been jailed for three years by the Special Criminal Court.

Edward McGarrigle (44) -- a Tyrone man who was closely aligned to the Dublin wing of the INLA -- was convicted of INLA membership linked to a plot to a kidnap a businessman.

McGarrigle , from Melmount Gardens, Strabane, Co Tyrone, was convicted last July of membership of the organisation on February 22, 2008, but his sentencing was adjourned after Mc Garrigle, who has been confined to a wheelchair since 1984, fractured his leg, requiring extended medical treatment in the North.

McGarrigle and two other men, John McCrossan (48), Ballycoleman Estate, Strabane, Co Tyrone, and Neil Myles (55), a native of Cork of no fixed address, were convicted after a four-week trial last July and McCrossan and Myles were each jailed for four-and-a-half years.

Gareth Dunne (25), of Clonard Rd, Crumlin, and Gerard Kelleher (29), Cathedral View Walk, Kevin Street, Dublin 8, were each jailed for four years after they pleaded guilty.

The men were all associates of former Dublin INLA boss Declan 'Whacker' Duffy, who has since quit the organisation.

Dunne and Kelleher are senior figures within the organisation in the capital. Duffy, who was formerly the head of the INLA's Dublin unit, has since distanced himself from the organisation.

Detective Inspector Tom Maguire, Special Detective Unit, told the court McGarrigle was shot in 1984 and since then has been a paraplegic. He said he has 66 previous convictions, mostly for minor offences but he was jailed for nine years in Belfast in 1993 for conspiracy to murder and given a suspended sentence in 2006 for unlawful possession of a firearm.

During the trial last year the court heard that gardai had prevented INLA activities, including an attempt to steal €1.6m and the intimidation of businessman Denis Maguire.

The court, in its judgment, said there was "background evidence of a well-organised plot to carry out some criminal enterprise in respect of a businessman and/or his family in Cork."

The intended target of the plot was Denis Maguire, who lived with his family at Lover's Walk, Montenotte, Cork.

The prosecution's case was based on sightings of the accused men meeting on different occasions in Cork and Dublin when they were under surveillance by the gardai. The court heard that the five men were seen at meetings held in Dublin and Cork between August 2007 and February 2008. The intended target, Mr Maguire, returned home at 8pm on February 22 in the company of two gardai.

Dunne and Kelleher were on the premises and they were arrested and searched. The coal shed was also searched. Duct tape, cable ties and three knives were found. McCrossan, McGarrigle and Myles were each arrested later that day.

Sentencing McGarrigle, Mr Justice Paul Butler, presiding at the non-jury court, said that the court had to take into account his "very serious condition".

The appropriate sentence would be five years but taking into account McGarrigle's medical condition the court would reduce that by two years and backdate it to July 1, 2009.