Court reserves judgment in IRA membership trial

Tue, Oct 23, 2012, 01:00

The Special Criminal Court has reserved judgment in the trial of a weightlifting enthusiast accused of IRA membership who was arrested during a Garda operation against dissident republicans.

Neil Smith (35), of Tubberfinn, Donore, Drogheda, Co Louth, has pleaded not guilty to membership of an unlawful organisation styling itself the Irish Republican Army, otherwise Óglaigh na hÉireann, otherwise the IRA on August 8th, 2010.

The court has heard that Mr Smith was arrested when gardaí stopped two cars that had been under surveillance in Co Louth. Mr Smith was the front-seat passenger in one of the stopped cars.

Chief Supt Jim Sheridan gave evidence that he believed Mr Smith was an IRA member.

But Mr Smith in evidence told his defence counsel, Dominic McGinn SC, that powerlifting was the “number one thing” in his life and that he had represented Ireland internationally in the sport of weightlifting.

He said he was “totally surprised” when gardaí stopped the Ford Galaxy and that he was “certainly not” a member of the IRA and had no sympathies toward them.