Four freed on Provo charges as Crown offers no evidence
Two men and two women due to stand trial charged with arranging Provisional IRA meetings have walked free from court after the prosecution offered no evidence against them.
As a result, Belfast Recorder Judge David McFarland entered not guilty verdicts against Padraic Wilson, Seamus Finucane, Briege Wright and Agnes McCrory.
Padraic Wilson (53), of Hamill Park, in west Belfast, was the only one of the four accused who was present in the public gallery at Belfast Crown Court to hear the verdicts. Mr Wilson was the leader of the IRA in the Maze Prison before his 1999 release.
He was due to go on trial accused of two counts of "arranging or assisting a meeting of three or more people, knowing that the meeting was to support a proscribed organisation, namely the Provisional Irish Republican Army''.
Agnes McCrory (63), of Dermot Hill Road; Seamus Finucane (57), of Hawthorn Hill, Hannahstown; and Briege Wright (56), of Glasmullin Gardens, all in west Belfast, were accused of professing to be members of the Provisional IRA, making threats, and organising or addressing meetings of PIRA.
All four had denied the charges at arraignment. The charges allegedly concerned several meetings held by the Provisionals in the late 1990s and 2000.
Prosecuting counsel Kate McKay asked Judge McFarland that the charges "be left on the books and not to be proceeded without the leave of the Crown Court of the Court of Appeal''.
But defence counsel Mark Mulholland QC said in the case last month of his client Martin Edward Morris (49), of Welbeck Road, London, the prosecution offered no evidence against him on a charge of membership of the Provisional IRA.
"In the light of that decision, we say that the prosecution in this case should offer no evidence in the same terms," he said.
Ms McKay told the court that the prosecution was now "not offering evidence" against the four accused.
As a result, the Belfast Recorder said he would enter a "not guilty verdict" against Wilson, Finucane, Wright and McCrory.