Belfast Telegraph

Bugged terrorists discussed arms and targets, court told

By Alan Erwin

Secret recordings of top-level Continuity IRA terror plot meetings revealed plans to smuggle a weapon inside a loaf of bread, the High Court has heard.

Discussions also explored the recruitment of well-educated young people and identifying shooting targets, prosecutors said.

Further details of the covert MI5 operation at a house in Newry, Co Down, were disclosed as bail was refused to one of seven men facing terrorist charges.

Seamus Morgan (59), of Barcroft Park in the city, is accused of belonging to a proscribed organisation.

The investigation centres on meetings held by alleged key members of the Continuity IRA's leadership, a judge was told.

The house at Ardcarn Park was raided on November 10 after being bugged for three months. Twelve men were arrested in total, with five of them released pending reports.

At a previous court hearing, it was claimed the tapes had uncovered a dissident plot to kill judges and police officers.

A total of nine meetings were recorded, with each of the suspects said to have been present on at least one occasion.

Morgan is alleged to have been at three of the meetings in October and November.

At the first of them, conversations centred on the inability to do jobs without weapons, punishment attacks and identifying targets for shootings, the court heard.

Those present also allegedly discussed dealing with local youths causing annoyance in the name of the Continuity IRA, with a statement to be issued warning anyone doing so would be "severely punished".

The prosecutor claimed he was then at a second meeting which explored anti-social behaviour, having household items for bomb-making which could be used as evidence against them, recruiting individuals to be kept "under the radar", and repairing guns.

She added that the men also talked about transporting a small weapon in a loaf of bread and getting items to make improvised explosive devices.

At the final meeting, discussions focused on financing, "taking on a 15-year-old" and other punishment attacks, and advice on setting up a "tight unit", it was claimed.

According to the barrister, they also considered "recruiting young people who are educated and have a driving licence and how they would prefer people who are valuable".

Preliminary results from voice attribution analysis indicates Morgan spoke during the covert recordings, she added.

Refusing bail, citing the risk of further offences, Mr Justice Burgess said it was clear that the nature of the discussions meant terror activity was firmly "on the radar" of those present.

Background

Topics discussed at alleged dissident republican meetings included: Membership of a proscribed organisation; weapons training; funding; planning terror acts; plans to procure and manufacture weapons; conversations related to conspiracy to murder and possession of firearms and explosives, structures of the Continuity IRA and recruitment strategies

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