Bomb ‘for other side of coun­try’

■ Dis­si­dent leader to learn fate over at­tack plot dur­ing Charles visit

Irish Examiner - - News - Cor­mac O’Ke­effe Se­cu­rity Cor­re­spon­dent

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.

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