Bail restrictions for `Real IRA' suspect

 

A Co Louth farmer, who is charged with IRA membership and who was described by gardai in the Special Criminal Court as a leading member of the "Real IRA", was freed on conditional bail by the High Court yesterday.

Mr Justice Quirke granted bail to Mr Liam Campbell (38), of Upper Faughart, Dundalk, on several conditions.

He must sign on twice daily at Dundalk Garda station, surrender his passport and not apply for another, remain in his home between 9 p.m. and 8 a.m. and not associate with any persons with convictions related to illegal organisations or persons who are in any way connected with criminal activity related to illegal organisations; the sole exception being his brother, Peter Campbell, who, the court was told, was convicted of criminal damage in Northern Ireland 20 years ago. Bail was also conditional on Mr Campbell's surety of £10,000 and two independent sureties of £10,000 each.

He is charged with membership of the IRA on October 3rd last. His trial has been fixed for the Special Criminal Court on October 3rd next.

The court was told that during a search of Mr Campbell's house on October 3rd, gardai found two plastic bags, masking tape, disposable body suits, gloves, three mobile phones, two walkie-talkie radios, two CB radios and two bundles of cash amounting to £2,000stg.

In evidence yesterday Mr Campbell said he was not and never had been a member of any illegal organisation and would not be involved in the commission of any serious offences in the future.

Giving his decision, Mr Justice Quirke said the State had established prima facie that the offence with which Mr Campbell was charged was serious and carried a severe penalty on conviction.

He had found there was strong "but not overwhelming" evidence to support the charge, including the opinion of a chief superintendent that Mr Campbell was a member of the IRA, the discovery of items in his home and the inferences that could be drawn by the trial court from his failure to answer questions.

The State's argument that refusal of bail was necessary to prevent the commission of a serious offence by Mr Campbell in the future was based entirely on evidence, which the judge accepted, that the IRA was dedicated to violent criminal activity and its members were likely to engage in that and place the lives of innocent citizens at risk. The State contended Mr Campbell was a member of the IRA but that was not proven.

The judge said he had also considered very carefully the sworn evidence of Mr Campbell that he was not a member of the IRA and never was and that he would not engage in criminal activity if granted bail.

Every citizen enjoyed the presumption of innocence, and Mr Campbell came before the court innocent of the crime alleged, the judge said. The State's evidence had to be balanced against Mr Campbell's sworn denial of membership, lack of previous convictions and his being the owner of property in the State.