Monaghan mechanic denies charge of IRA membership

Lawyer says trial will hear item found on property allegedly part of explosive device

Counsel said gardaí  found the gated property to have had a “high degree of security” with 10 St Bernard dogs “who behaved rather aggressively”. Photograph: Alan Betson / THE IRISH TIMES

Counsel said gardaí found the gated property to have had a “high degree of security” with 10 St Bernard dogs “who behaved rather aggressively”. Photograph: Alan Betson / THE IRISH TIMES

 

A Monaghan mechanic has gone on trial at the Special Criminal Court accused of IRA membership.

James Joseph Cassidy (55) of Tullycollive, Castleblayney, Co Monaghan, has pleaded not guilty to being a member of an unlawful organisation styling itself as the Irish Republican Army, otherwise Óglaigh na hÉireann, otherwise the IRA, within the State on September 21st, 2016.

In opening the trial, Paul Greene SC, prosecuting, said there would be evidence that gardaí­ found a long metal item on Mr Cassidy’s property, which allegedly forms part of an improvised explosive device.

He said gardaí­ discovered this “water booster tube” during a search in and around Mr Cassidy’s family home and sheds which he owned or had access to.

Mr Greene said there would be evidence of this device’s similarity to one seized during another prosecution in Kilcurry, an area “not very far away from where we are talking about”.

Mr Greene told the court that the Tullycollive area is “an unusually remote” part of Monaghan overlooking the border into Armagh and accessed by a minor road.

Counsel said gardaí­ found the gated property to have had a “high degree of security” with 10 St Bernard dogs “who behaved rather aggressively”. He said investigators discovered “extensive security lighting” activated from the accused man’s bedroom.

Mr Greene told the three-judge panel that gardaí also found three mobile phones and “items of Republican paraphernalia” that would be exhibited in the trial.

He said there would also be evidence of Mr Cassidy’s association with a number of convicted IRA members and people of a group called the Republican Network Unity (RNU).

Garda Martin McGann told John Byrne BL, prosecuting, that he was requested to attend and photograph the scene during the search at Mr Cassidy’s property in 2016.

He said he photographed a cylindrical metal tube about 40cm in length, which was located in a cow shed between a water container and a solid wall.

Gda McGann told Mr Byrne he also took a picture of a roll of black plastic bags accompanying this metal tube, as well as markings on a wall in the shed that had potential interest to the investigation.

He agreed with Padraig Dwyer SC, defending, that the metal tube depicted in the photograph was visible and did not appear hidden.

Mr Dwyer suggested that from other photos of the scene it appeared there were old wooden planks and bits of plastic scattered around. When asked if there was any metal scattered, Garda McGann replied that the objects in the photos looked mostly to be wooden.

The garda said an object in one of the photos was possibly a piece of metal, but he couldn’t tell.

The trial continues with Mr Justice Tony Hunt, presiding with Judge Patricia Ryan and Judge Ann Ryan.