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Dissident republican in court to answer 'directing terrorism' charge

Published 20/10/2015

The court appearance follows a police operation targeting dissident republicanism
The court appearance follows a police operation targeting dissident republicanism

A prominent dissident republican allegedly recorded talking about bombings and shootings has been remanded in custody charged with directing terrorism.

Carl Reilly, 39, from Pollard Close in Belfast is also accused of membership of a proscribed organisation, Oglaigh na hEireann.

A bail application was refused by District Judge Fiona Bagnall at Belfast Magistrates' Court.

The judge said: "In the circumstances of this case I am satisfied there is a likelihood of re-offending."

Reilly, chairman of the high profile Republican Network for Unity (RNU), was arrested after a security operation in which two men were secretly recorded at a hotel near Dundalk in Co Louth, the court heard.

The alleged offences are believed to have occurred between January and October this year.

Reilly, who waved and smiled at supporters in the public gallery, spoke only once during the brief hearing, replying "aye" when asked if he understood the charges against him.

A detective from the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) told the court he believed he could connect Reilly to the charges.

The officer said covertly recorded discussions in the Carrickdale Hotel had centred on shootings, bombings and box timers.

There was no discussion of "family or politics" according to the detective who cannot be named for security reasons.

He said: "During interviews the defendant did not deny that it was his voice on the tape.

"CCTV footage had two men going into the hotel. The defendant did not deny it was him."

Police objections to bail included the risk of flight and the potential for re-offending.

The officer said Oglaigh na hEireann had been responsible for a number of bombings and shootings in recent years.

"We fear if he is released the activities of that group will continue," he added.

Defence solicitor Peter Corrigan said there was no evidence of directing terrorism a nd claimed the charge had been made to get Reilly off the streets.

Mr Corrigan said: "We say that the directing charge in these circumstances is there for one purpose. That purpose is to prevent bail.

"We know that before the defendant has a trial there will be a significant time away."

The solicitor also questioned how the PSNI had obtained the taped transcripts and said a voice analyst had not been involved in the case.

Denial of bail, Mr Corrigan argued, would be like "driving a coach and horses through the presumption of innocence".

"These discussions and gossip could be taking part in many parts of Northern Ireland," he said.

"It is one thing having a conversation and another directing."

The solicitor also claimed that, in his role as RNU chairman and through working with various republican prisoner groups, Reilly was able to "mediate" with armed groupings.

He added: "There is not one specific incident mentioned in the transcript. Everything is in general terms."

There was tight security at Laganside court complex with police officers in riot gear deployed in the courtroom and corridor while armoured Land Rovers with CCTV cameras lined up outside the building.

Reilly, who was wearing a light blue shirt and trousers, smiled and nodded at a large crowd of supporters who had packed into the public gallery of courtroom number 10.

He appeared relaxed and stood with his hands on his hips as the charges were read out.

As he was led to the cells by uniformed prison officers, Reilly again waved and gave the thumbs up sign.

The case has been adjourned until next month.

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