Belfast Telegraph

Continuity IRA men were taped targeting another top member, court is told

By Deborah McAleese

Two Continuity IRA men planned to target another top member of the terror group amid growing tensions within the organisation, a court has heard.

During a meeting last month between Newry men Seamus Morgan and Colin Winters, which was bugged by MI5, the pair allegedly discussed their "frustration" with how the Belfast branch of the terror group was "interfering with their operations".

It is claimed they then referred to an alleged member of the CIRA in Belfast, Dunmurry man Liam Hannaway, and said: "We will railroad the f***ing c*** off the road."

The conversation was just one of a number of meetings between suspected CIRA members at a house in Newry that were secretly recorded by MI5 over a three-month period this year as part of a major anti-terrorism operation.

During the meetings, plots to murder named police officers, judges and members of the public were allegedly discussed.

Last week highly trained PSNI officers swooped on the property and arrested 12 men on suspicion of terrorist offences.

Seven of the men, including Morgan, 43-year-old Winters and 44-year-old Hannaway, were this week charged in connection with terrorist activity.

During a failed bail application at Newry Magistrates Court yesterday for Morgan - who has been charged with membership of a proscribed organisation - a judge said it was clear that the CIRA had been infiltrated "to a very great degree".

It was claimed that additional suspects were still being pursued by police and 35 detectives were involved in the investigation.

The court was told that conversations bugged by MI5 included discussions about weapons training, funding, terror plots, structures of the Continuity IRA and recruitment strategies.

A prosecution lawyer said that during one of the meetings attended by Morgan - who was jailed for 14 years in 1975 for causing an explosion and belonging to a proscribed organisation - frustration was voiced over "inability to do jobs without weapons".

At another meeting attended by the 58-year-old from Barcroft Park in Newry, it was suggested that the Newry branch of the CIRA "overrule" the Belfast branch and shoot a known drug dealer.

"(Morgan) is clearly someone intricately involved in this dangerous organisation. He is a key member of the CIRA in Newry. The court can be satisfied, if released on bail, he would commit violent attacks in the future," a prosecution lawyer warned the court.

A defence lawyer said, however, that Morgan was on MI5's radar and that it was "foolhardy" to suggest that anyone in those circumstances would commit any offences.

He added that Morgan strenuously denied the charge against him and suggested he could be tagged if released on bail.

District judge Eamonn King refused Morgan bail due to concerns "in relation to his intention to continue to plan, organise, persuade and influence other people in respect of offences".

Mr King said it is clear that the CIRA has been "infiltrated to a very great degree".

He added: "It is a tragedy for this country that there are still people out there who believe an objective that can be achieved through democratic means has to be achieved through a violent and destructive manner."

Morgan was remanded in custody to appear back before the court next month.

Background

MI5 bugged a house at Ardcarn Park in Newry that is believed to have been used for meetings by members of the Continuity IRA.

During meetings recorded by MI5, suspected members of the dissident republican terror group allegedly plotted to attack police officers, judges and members of the public. Seven men were this week charged with a series of terrorist offences after they were arrested during a raid on the house by the PSNI as part of a major anti-terrorism operation.

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