Men plead guilty to IRA membership in trial adjourned over Garda tapes

Defence considered employing expert to examine stations where men were detained

Two Limerick men have pleaded guilty to IRA membership in advance of their Special Criminal Court trial, which had been adjourned in what was the first criminal case affected by the garda taping revelations.

The trial of Thomas McMahon (31) and his co-accused Noel Noonan (34) had been adjourned until today to allow the defence consider employing an expert to physically examine Clonmel and Cahir Garda stations, where the men were detained after arrest.

The non-jury court had already heard expert evidence that there were no recording facilities at the two stations.

Ms Tara Burns SC, prosecuting, told the court progress had been made in the case and the two men could be arraigned.

McMahon, of Ros Fearna, Murroe, and Noonan, with an address at St Patrick's Hostel, Clare Street, then stood up in the dock and pleaded guilty to membership of an unlawful organisation within the State styling itself the Irish Republican Army, otherwise Oglaigh na hEireann, otherwise the IRA on February 7th, 2013.

Ms Burns said in relation to sentencing it was understood both accused were looking for a date sometime in June.

She also asked for a transcript of last Thursday’s hearing of the case to be made available.

Presiding judge Mr Justice Paul Butler said the court would fix June 27th for sentencing and, noting the bail sureties were in court, remanded both men on continuing bail until that date.

The trial was adjourned last week in the wake of the Garda taping revelations after the defence sought confirmation as to whether telephone calls made by their clients with their solicitors prior to interview were recorded.

Last Thursday the court heard the Garda stations concerned were at Clonmel and Cahir and an investigation in to matter had concluded that recording facilities were not in place at either station.

There was evidence from Superintendent Michael Flynn, of the Garda Telecommunications Section, who has been tasked with investigating the issue in relation to the garda recording of telephone calls.

He said the recording of telephone calls was done by way of a unit in Garda Headquarters which interfaced with the 23 garda divisional headquarters. Once a call was made it was recorded in Garda Headquarters and stored there.

Supt Flynn said he had examined the device at Garda HQ and could say that neither Clonmel nor Cahir Garda Station were connected, with only the divisional headquarters outside the Dublin metropolitan area connected to it.