Bomb ‘for other side of country’
■ Dissident leader to learn fate over attack plot during Charles visit
A bomb planned for the 2015 visit of Prince Charles was intended for the ‘other side of the country’ to the visit, a court has heard.
A bomb attack planned to coincide with the 2015 visit of Prince Charles, described by dissidents as the “main event”, was intended for the “other side of the country” to the actual visit, the Special Criminal Court has heard.
At a sentencing hearing yesterday, Michael O’Higgins SC, counsel for Seamus McGrane — who was convicted two weeks ago of directing terrorism — argued that the bomb was planned to detonate in the dead of night inside a graveyard when the chances of civilian casualties would be at their “lowest”.
McGrane, aged 63, from Dromiskin, Co Louth, was found guilty by the non-jury court of directing the activities of a terrorist organisation — Óglaigh na hÉireann — as well as membership, at the end of October.
It is only the second conviction for directing a terrorist organisation, after the conviction of Real IRA boss Michael McKevitt in 2003, for which he received 20 years.
In his submission that this case was “not Mr McKevitt Mark Two”, Michael O’Higgins SC said there are “very significant” distinctions in his client’s case.
The conviction of McGrane, and of student Dónal Ó Coisdealbha, aged 25, in 2016 followed a sophisticated bugging operation by the National Surveillance Unit in April-May 2015 inside the Coachman’s Inn in Swords, north Dublin.
Det Chief Supt Tom Maguire of Garda Security and Intelligence Section, and formerly of the Special Detective Unit, said two recordings, from April 19 and May 10, established that McGrane was directing activities of a terrorist organisation.
Chief Supt Maguire said the audio caught McGrane directing Ó Coisdealbha, a student at Maynooth University, and that utterances from McGrane showed he was directing others and highlighted his experimentation of explosive devices.
McGrane told the Dublin student the operation in relation to Prince Charles’ visit should be of “symbolic” and “military” significance.
Chief Supt Maguire said references in the discussions to the “main event” referred to the “main attack” to coincide with the visit of Prince Charles on May 19.
The court heard that the target was near the Cross of Sacrifice, a First World War monument in Dublin’s Glasnevin Cemetery. Chief Supt Maguire said Prince Charles was due to visit Sligo and Galway.
The court heard a “veritable arsenal of weapons and explosives” was found in searches of lands linked to McGrane.
Chief Supt Maguire accepted Mr O’Higgins’ point that it was a “different era” when McKevitt was in court and that McGrane’s organisation had not killed people.
He said McGrane had previous convictions for membership and training people in the use of firearms.
Mr O’Higgins said the period of direction was “very narrow”, just three weeks. He said there were “very significant distinctions” to the McKevitt case and that the defence’s approach had cut the length of the trial.
He pointed out that Ó Coisdealbha only received a fiveyear sentence for membership and that there “must be correlation” with that.
He said the relationship of the two men was a “symbiotic one” and that his client was “deferring” to Ó Coisdealbha’s technical knowledge. Sentencing was adjourned to December 7.