Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 22 October 2014

Dissident suspect’s Mass plea refused

A man charged over a dissident republican show of strength at the funeral of an IRA killer has failed in a High Court bid to be allowed to attend his memorial Mass.

Conor Casey was seeking permission to go to a service marking the first anniversary of the death in custody of John Brady.

The 39-year-old of Forthglen, Cookstown, is accused of managing a meeting on October 8, 2009 in support of a proscribed organisation, namely the Real IRA. He is also charged with aiding and abetting the possession of firearms on that day.

Brady, who served a sentence for murdering an RUC officer, was found dead at a police station in Londonderry. He is believed to have taken his own life.

Prosecutors said the charges against Casey relate to a show of strength over Brady's coffin outside a house on the Drumrallagh estate in Strabane.

Three men wearing paramilitary-style uniforms and masks fired a volley of shots on the orders of a fourth man dressed in the same manner. Before this, Casey is alleged to have placed an Irish flag, black beret and gloves on top of the coffin.

A Crown lawyer said: “The applicant, dressed in dark trousers, a white shirt and black tie and black mourner's armband, took up position behind the three persons lining the side of the coffin,” he said. “After it the applicant was seen to crouch down and seen to be picking up empty cartridges from the discharged firearms.”

Although Casey is out on bail, he was seeking a temporary lifting of a ban on being at public meetings and an extended curfew to attend the memorial Mass. Prosecution objections were based on concerns about any paramilitary activity taking place.

But defence counsel Sean Devine said: “He was a very close friend of the deceased and it is for that reason he was given what is considered to be a place of honour at the funeral.”

Refusing to vary bail conditions, Lord Justice Girvan ruled: “There seems to be a real risk that on the periphery of the church service there may be matters that could give rise to problems which, because of the background of the whole situation, could tend to create problems.”

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