A defence barrister for the man accused of murdering Detective Garda Adrian Donohoe apologised on Tuesday for asking "an outrageous question" of a key prosecution witness and suggesting he was "engaged in dissident IRA activity".
During a lengthy cross examination Daniel Cahill (28), giving evidence via video link from a building in New York, denied being a member of the "Ryan Crew" or Dublin Real IRA and insisted he was telling the truth when he told the trial that the accused man Aaron Brady admitted on three occasions to shooting Det Gda Donohoe.
The witness also received an apology from defence counsel for suggesting that he was engaged in Real IRA activity in 2012 with the Alan and Vincent Ryan "crew", a suggestion that the trial Judge Mr Justice Michael White said was "outrageous" and "unacceptable".
He also denied that he gave evidence so that he would not be deported from the United States.
Mr Cahill accepted that he had been a childhood friend of Vincent Ryan and that he knew Dean Evans, who murdered dissident republican Peter Butterly outside the Huntsman Inn in Gormanston, Co Meath in March 2013. But he said he was never involved in criminality, had no interest in Mr Ryan’s “business” and that he put distance between himself and Mr Ryan when he saw Mr Ryan wearing a bulletproof vest.
Aaron Brady (28) from New Road, Crossmaglen, Co Armagh has pleaded not guilty to the capital murder of Det Gda Donohoe who was then a member of An Garda Síochána on active duty on January 25, 2013 at Lordship Credit Union, Bellurgan, Co Louth. Mr Brady has also pleaded not guilty to a charge of robbing approximately €7,000 in cash and assorted cheques on the same date and at the same location.
During his direct evidence on Monday Mr Cahill, a bar tender, said that the defendant told him twice at a bar and once at a house party in New York that he shot a garda in Ireland.
Justin McQuade BL for the defence on Tuesday said the truth is that Mr Brady never made these admissions to the witness and that if he had Mr Cahill would have said it when he spoke to off-duty gardaí in a bar on Time Square on St Patrick’s Day, 2017.
The witness said he did mention it to gardaí on that occasion but he was working in a busy bar, the gardaí were drinking and one of them told him she didn’t want to talk about it because it upset her. He said he didn’t know why gardaí did not follow up on what he had said.
Mr McQuade suggested to the witness that when Homeland Security called to his home in July 2019 to ask if he would speak to gardaí about Aaron Brady his future in America “flashed before your eyes” and that he had a lot to lose.
Mr Cahill said he is married to an American citizen and that Homeland Security made it clear to him that they were there to make sure his rights were not infringed. They told him it was his choice if he wanted to make a statement. When Mr McQuade suggested that he was presented with a situation where he must either give a statement or go to the departure gates he replied: “No sir. I am legally bound to my wife.” He said that he knew Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) had been deporting people at that time who had no status but he was not one of those people.
He added: “I’m here to give evidence because I choose to, not because I have to.”
When asked about his life before leaving Ireland in 2013, Mr Cahill said he was a childhood friend of Vincent Ryan, who was shot dead in February 2016. His older brother Alan Ryan, who Mr McQuade said was known as the leader of the Dublin Real IRA, was shot dead in 2012.
The witness said the Ryans lived a couple of doors from him on the same street and as a child he would play football and hang around with Vincent Ryan. But when Mr McQuade asked him if he was a member of the “Ryan crew” Mr Cahill replied: “No I was not”.
Mr McQuade put it to him again that he was a member of the Ryan crew and the witness replied: “No, I was a hairdresser.” Mr McQuade said: “You were a member of the Ryan crew by that I mean the Dublin Real IRA.”
The witness replied: “That is completely false. That is a ridiculous statement to say. I have never committed crimes like that.” When Mr McQuade again stated: “I am putting it to you that you were a member of the Real IRA,” Mr Cahill said that he had answered the question multiple times and added: “It is false. I didn’t even go to his funeral. I wasn’t a member of his crew. What do you mean?”
When Mr McQuade suggested that the witness was “engaged in dissident IRA activity” in 2012 the witness replied, “no that is false,” and prosecution counsel Brendan Grehan SC intervened saying: “This is an outrageous line of cross examination.” Mr Grehan asked for a ruling by the judge and the jury was asked to leave the court. When they returned Mr Justice Michael White told them that the final question asked by Mr McQuade was “an outrageous question”. He said it was “unacceptable and shouldn’t have been put by Mr McQuade.”
Mr McQuade apologised, saying he had “overstepped the mark”.
Mr Cahill said he grew up in a neighbourhood in Dublin 13 surrounded by poverty and crime. He said he knew Vincent Ryan and Dean Evans and would often see them at the gym or around the neighbourhood. He said Vincent Ryan was a prominent figure in the neighbourhood and had always been kind to him. If they met he would chat to him but he wasn’t someone he spent time with day to day. He agreed that Mr Ryan was at his birthday party in 2012. While he said he does not condone “anything he stood for”, he said he didn’t hold anything against him either. He didn’t want any part of Mr Ryan’s “business”, adding: “Whatever his business was I didn’t want to be a part of it. I didn’t want to know what it was and didn’t want anything to do with what he did.”
The witness also accepted that he had gone on a sponsored walk for the 32 County Sovereignty Movement and while there he held a banner with Vincent Ryan.
The cross examination continues on Wednesday in front of Mr Justice White and a jury of six men and seven women.