Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 30 August 2014

Court hears of garda surveillance in IRA case

A man on trial for IRA membership told gardai that it would be "stupid" of him to get involved in the IRA and that such involvement was "a one-way ticket to death or jail".

Neil Smith (35), of Tubberfinn, Donore, Drogheda, Co Louth, has pleaded not guilty to membership of an unlawful organisation styling itself the Irish Republican Army, otherwise Oglaigh na hEireann, otherwise the IRA, on August 8, 2010.

His trial at the Special Criminal Court heard evidence from surveillance gardai who followed five men travelling in two cars -- a black BMW and a gold Ford Galaxy MPV -- on that morning.

When members of the Special Detective Unit stopped the two cars, they found a sawn-off shotgun loaded with two cartridges, a black balaclava and a Hallowe'en mask in the BMW. The car had been fitted with false number plates.

Mr Smith was a passenger in the Ford Galaxy, where gardai found a jacket containing a balaclava and two shotgun cartridges. A number of bags of icing sugar were found in a Volkswagen Bora driven by the accused man earlier in the day.

Opening the prosecution case, Ms Una Ni Raifeartaigh SC said that a ballistics expert would tell the court that icing sugar is sometimes used in the preparation of home-made explosives.

The trial continues.

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