Man accused of IRA role ‘used Christmas cards’ to smuggle note

Allegation made in closing speeches at trial of Brian Kenna (54) of Crumlin Park, Dublin

Ronan Kennedy BL, prosecuting, told the  court  there was “compelling evidence” Brian  Kenna was a member of the IRA, trusted to smuggle a “secret and sensitive” communication out of Portlaoise prison (above). File photograph: Google Street View

Ronan Kennedy BL, prosecuting, told the court there was “compelling evidence” Brian Kenna was a member of the IRA, trusted to smuggle a “secret and sensitive” communication out of Portlaoise prison (above). File photograph: Google Street View

 

A man accused of IRA membership used Christmas cards as a cover to smuggle a “secret and sensitive” communiqué out of Portlaoise prison, the Special Criminal Court has heard.

The allegation was made on Friday during closing speeches at the trial of Brian Kenna (54) of Crumlin Park, Crumlin, Dublin.

Mr Kenna denies membership of an unlawful organisation within the State, namely Óglaigh na hÉireann, otherwise the Irish Republican Army, otherwise the IRA on November 21st, 2015.

Ronan Kennedy BL, prosecuting, told the three-judge, non-jury court that there was “compelling evidence” Mr Kenna was a member of the IRA, trusted to smuggle a “secret and sensitive” communication out of Portlaoise prison.

Intercepted by gardaí

Previously, the court has heard evidence that the communication related to an IRA operation that had been intercepted by gardaí.

Mr Kennedy said that when Mr Kenna left the prison he was carrying 15 Christmas cards, and that CCTV showed him passing through the visitors’ locker room and the car park with the cards “visibly” in his left hand.

The barrister said Mr Kenna was stopped and searched in the car park by detectives, and when his right jeans pocket was turned out, an “IRA communiqué” fell to the ground.

“It had been in an intimate pocket,” Mr Kennedy said. “A person might be careless in relation to a coat and coat pockets but is rarely careless about the trousers, given that they’re usually wearing them.”

The barrister asked, “Is this the type of pocket something falls into by accident? Is this the type of pocket something can be deposited into by a third party without the wearer noticing?”

Personal items

Mr Kennedy submitted that it was the type of pocket in which people kept personal items, “items you want to protect, an item you don’t want to drop or lose”.

The only reasonable inference, he said, was that Mr Kenna knew “full well” what he had in his pocket.

Noting the Christmas cards, the barrister said, “Was it not the perfect cover to deliver a more sinister document?”

“No-one ever suspects Santa of committing a crime,” he said.

“It’s not a role for any gombeen,” he added. “That’s a role for a trusted lieutenant.”

Siobhan Stack SC, for Mr Kenna, submitted that it was “very obvious that this case essentially rests on a single document”.

She said that the significance of the document was “limited”.

“It did not say anything at all about how gardaí intercepted the operation,” she said.

Already on bail

Ms Stack noted that by the time Mr Kenna visited the prison, the men mentioned in the document were already on bail.

“There is no evidence Mr Kenna knew what was on the document,” she said. “There is no evidence whatsoever that Mr Kenna ever saw the document. It does not refer to him, it does not address him.”

She said that the “absolute height of the prosecution case was that a message was carried”.

Mr Justice Tony Hunt, presiding, sitting with Judge John O’Hagan and Judge Flann Brennan, remanded Mr Kenna on continuing bail until next Thursday, when the court will deliver a verdict in the case.