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Dad-of-five fails to get bail in IRA arms case

A FATHER-of-five accused of possessing a firearm and of IRA membership has been refused bail.

The Special Criminal Court, at Dublin's Parkgate Street, rejected an attempt by Louth man Barry O'Brien to get bail, ruling that it would be "inappropriate" as he is due to go on trial later this year for an alleged offence dating back to 2004.

A senior Special Branch detective told the three-judge court today that O'Brien (38), of Stonetown, Dundalk, was "out on bail" in respect of this charge, concerning membership of an illegal organisation, when he was arrested earlier this month by gardai investigating dissident republican activity.

O'Brien was brought before the Special Criminal Court on August 10 last and charged with unlawfully possessing a firearm at a location in Dundalk two days earlier and of membership of an illegal organisation, namely the IRA, on the same date.

Lawyers for O'Brien said his trial in respect of the 2004 membership charge was due to begin this November, having been delayed because an aspect of the case was being dealt with by the Supreme Court.

The State objected to the granting of bail, on the grounds that a refusal of the application was "necessary" to prevent the committal of "further offences". Refusing bail at yesterday's court sitting, Ms Justice Alison Lindsay, presiding, said O'Brien had undertaken to be of good behaviour under the bail conditions set out for the earlier alleged offence, and added that these latest charges were of "a serious nature".

O'Brien was remanded in custody until November 16, the date on which his trial is due to start before the three-judge, non-jury court.

Four other men, arrested on August 8 as part of the same investigation, were granted bail by the Special Criminal Court.



Arrest

They are Paul Maguire (24) of Drumleek South, Castleblayney in Co Monaghan, who is charged with unlawfully having a sawn-off shot gun at Dundalk's Ecco Road on the date of his arrest.

Eamon Lennon (34), of Inniskeen, Co Monaghan, and Neil Smith (32) and Des Ryan (53) both with addresses at Tubberfinn, Donore, in Co Meath, who are charged with membership of an illegal organisation, namely the IRA, on August 8 last.

Lennon and Ryan are further charged with the unlawful possession of a firearm at separate locations in Dundalk last Sunday. All four will appear before the court again on October 12.

hnews@herald.ie