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IRA accused's prints 'found on gun bag'

The fingerprints of a Dublin man accused of membership of the IRA was found on a plastic bag used to wrap a sawn-off shotgun, his Special Criminal Court trial has heard.

Sean Farrell (27), of Kilfenora Road, Crumlin, has pleaded not guilty to membership of an unlawful organisation, namely Oglaigh na hEireann, otherwise the Irish Republican Army, on July 7, 2010.

Giving evidence before the non-jury court, Detective Garda Alan Slevin agreed with Michael Bowman, prosecuting, that he had 13 years' experience working in the garda fingerprint section.

He said he was able to develop two fingerprint marks from a black plastic bag used to wrap a sawn-off 12-gauge Mossberg pump-action shotgun found by gardai after a search of a one-bedroom flat on Bride Road in Dublin 8.

Garda Slevin said he compared these marks with an impression of the left middle finger of Sean Farrell taken at Kevin Street Garda Station and was satisfied beyond doubt that the marks on the bag were made by the same finger.

In answer to counsel for the defence, Padraig Dwyer, that he agreed it was not possible to date when a fingerprint had been placed on a given item.

The court heard that during a search of the flat three firearms were found: a pump-action sawn-off shotgun, a semi-automatic pistol and an Uzi semi-automatic pistol. Gardai also found 147 rounds of ammunition.

Detective Garda Seamus O'Connor told Mr Bowman that on 8.14pm on May 2, 2011 he observed Farrell approach on his motorcycle and enter the flat. The accused stayed in the flat for eight minutes before departing.

The court also heard evidence from Detective Garda Nicky Conneely, who told Mr Bowman that gardai photographed two tattoos on Farrell -- one of a Celtic Cross and the words "Oglaigh na hEireann" and another of a red triangle showing a man holding a gun with the words "Sniper at work".

He agreed that the accused man repeatedly answered "no comment" to questions put to him by detectives in a series of interviews at Terenure Garda Station on 8 July, 2011.

Det Garda Conneely agreed that Farrell was informed by gardai that a judge or jury could draw certain inferences from an accused person's failure or refusal to answer material questions relating to their arrest and may regard evidence of this as corroborative of other evidence against the accused person.

The trial continues on Tuesday in front of presiding judge Mr Justice Paul Butler.