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Man facing trial for terrorist offence has bail varied to allow him to go to Spain for a week

By Ashleigh McDonald

A 46-year-old Co Armagh man facing trial in the new year for a terrorist offence had his bail varied on Tuesday to allow him to go to Spain for a week.

James Seamus McGuigan, from North Street in Lurgan, is due to stand trial in January on a charge of possessing articles for use in terrorism in October 2013.

McGuigan has been charged with - and denies - possessing a mobile phone and SIM card "in circumstances which gave rise to a reasonable suspicion their possession was for a purpose connected with the commission, preparation or instigation of an act of terrorism" between October 8 and 18, 2013.

Although no details of the alleged offence were given during today's bail variation application at Belfast Crown Court, a previous hearing was told that police believe the mobile phone was allegedly used by dissident republicans when they tried to remotely detonate a bomb left outside a primary school in Lurgan.

During today's application, a barrister acting on behalf of McGuigan revealed the variation on his client's terms of bail was to allow him to go to Spain for a week with his wife.

The barrister told Judge Geoffrey Miller QC that McGuigan and his wife had been together for 25 years, and to mark this anniversary, the couple's two grown-up children wanted to buy them a week's holiday in January as a Christmas present.

The barrister pointed out that after being granted bail in February of this year, McGuigan "has adhered to all the conditions of bail".

He also said that McGuigan has already had the terms varied to allow him to go to Donegal for a week earlier this year, which "went without an incident."

A prosecuting barrister informed Judge Miller that the Crown was opposed to the bail variation - but said if the court was minded to grant the application, police would be seeking a number of stringent conditions. These included reporting to local police twice during his week-long stay, remaining in Spain, providing his wife's mobile number and not attending, participating or speaking at any political meetings.

The Crown also asked that the two people who offered cash sureties - one for £2,000 and another for £2,500 - be ordered to resign the relevant papers "to acknowledge they will stand over" their sureties whilst McGuigan is in Spain.

When asked why the bail variation was being opposed, the Crown barrister expressed concerns that McGuigan "may take the opportunity not to return, and disrupt the trial" which is listed to commence on January 25, 2017.

The prosecutor also told the court: "There is a fear he may, once outside the jurisdiction, have contact with other people involved in this offending."

Judge Miller spoke of the proximity of the holiday to the start of the trial, and said that whilst "the concerns raised by the Crown are not just genuine, but reasonable," he was prepared to vary the bail conditions.

Setting out the conditions suggested by the Crown, the Judge addressed McGuigan's barrister and said: "If your client is content with these terms, the application will be granted. If he isn't, it will be refused."

When the barrister confirmed his client's consent, the variation was granted.

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