Belfast Telegraph

Man was a world of information on potential security force targets, court told

By David Young

A man charged with assisting terrorists is held in high regard by dissident republican leaders as a "world of information" on potential security force targets, a court has heard.

Joseph Pearce (44) allegedly provided specific details on police and prison officers to the leadership of the Continuity IRA, a prosecutor told Newry Magistrates Court yesterday.

Pearce, from Clogharevan Park in Bessbrook, Co Armagh, was remanded in custody on two counts of collecting information likely to be of use to terrorists after a bail application was refused by a judge.

A prosecutor earlier told the court the charges were based on covert MI5 recordings of alleged meetings of the dissident Continuity IRA in a house in Newry over a three-month period in the latter part of this year.

Seven men have already been charged with a range of terrorist offences on the basis of the conversations the security services secretly taped inside the Ardcarn Park home.

Pearce, whose defence lawyer told the court he suffered from a range of serious health conditions, including morbid obesity, spoke only to give his name and date of birth. His lawyer said he denied the charges.

The prosecutor told District Judge Eamon King that Pearce only attended one of the recorded meetings, on October 3 this year.

He said Pearce attended for one hour of what was an extensive encounter.

The lawyer said during the whole meeting topics discussed included possessing weapons, procuring explosives, possessing a rocket launcher, making and transporting a bomb, trying to establish people who were members of gun clubs in order to get access to ammunition, and potential police and prison officer targets.

The prosecutor said at an early point in the meeting, co-accused Patrick Joseph Blair was recorded having a phone conversation with Pearce during which Blair (59), from Villas One in Dundalk, asked that Pearce join them.

Last night police charged two further men in connection with the Ardcarn Park investigation. Both are due to appear at Newry Magistrates Court today.

A 41-year-old has been charged with membership of a proscribed organisation and receiving explosives training.

A 54-year-old has been charged with membership of a proscribed organisation and conspiring to cause an explosion.

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