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Saturday 10 December 2016

IRA man 'caught with explosives' days before visit by Prince Charles

Donal O Coisdealbha
Donal O Coisdealbha

A Dublin man who pleaded guilty to IRA membership was arrested in the run-up to Prince Charles' visit to Ireland and had explosive device components in his locker at Maynooth University, the Special Criminal Court has heard.

The evidence was heard during the sentencing hearing of Donal O Coisdealbha (25), of Abbeyfield, Killester in Dublin 5, who pleaded guilty to membership of an unlawful organisation styling itself the Irish Republican Army, otherwise Oglaigh na hEireann, otherwise the IRA within the State on May 13, 2015.

He faces a maximum sentence of eight years in prison.

At yesterday's sentence hearing, Detective Inspector Bill Hanrahan of the Special Detective Unit outlined the facts of the case.

He told prosecuting counsel Tara Burns SC that O Coisdealbha was arrested on May 13, 2015 and detained at Irishtown Garda Station.

He said the arrest arose from a garda investigation which had been ongoing for a period of time prior to May 2015.

In January 2015 the accused was observed at The Coachmans Inn in Swords, meeting with "a particular individual" who has a conviction before the Special Criminal Court and who is suspected of having a significant role within the IRA.

Further meetings occurred between the two men at the inn during February, March, April and May of that year and in some cases audio surveillance was conducted by gardai.

The court also heard that the accused was seen with two brothers at a location in Violet Hill in Glasnevin on March 14, 2015 and again on April 19 at 'The Pint pub' on Tara Street.

On May 9, O Coisdealbha was again seen with the brothers driving to a house at Harbour Court in Courtown, Wexford and observed buying packets of cling film en route.

On May 13 searches occurred at Harbour Court in Courtown and in Profector Life Sciences in the National University of Ireland Maynooth, Co Kildare.

Explosive

Ms Burns told the court explosive devices were found in a water butt at the house at Courtown. These consisted of four improvised rockets, semtex, five phones, a time power unit, a broken circuit board, a chord of cortex and two detonators.

Other smaller electrical components in the water butt were also capable of being used within an explosive device.

A plastic crate containing semtex, a large bag of fertiliser (which was ground down to make a homemade explosive), a fire hydrant and a booster tube were also found in the house.

DNA on gardening gloves matched that of Mr O Coisdealbha and one of the brothers.

In a search at the accused's workplace at Maynooth University on May 13, a time power unit and a broken circuit board were found in a locker that only O Coisdealbha had access to.

These were later discovered to fit together with components found at Harbour Court.

Two improvised explosive devices were also found in a car at Mitchelstown in Navan and O Coisdealbha's DNA profile was found on one of the devices.

During the meetings O Coisdealbha was heard discussing plans to develop an artillery rocket. Ms Burns said that from conversations on May 10 it was clear that preparations were well advanced, indicating that the event was to happen around May 19 when Prince Charles was visiting the jurisdiction.

"There was a reference made that a timer was to be used with a 14-minute delay and the blame was to be given to a different organisation within the IRA," said Det Insp Hanrahan.

This was the part of the conversation which caused gardai to move in and arrest the accused on May 13, when he denied membership of the IRA.

O Coisdealbha has no previous convictions, is a single man and lives with his parents. When arrested he was employed in the bio medical field.

In a letter to the court O Coisdealbha said he hoped on prison release he could make a positive contribution to society.

Ms Justice Isobel Kennedy presiding remanded O Coisdealbha in custody for sentencing on December 6.

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