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Omagh suspect 'gave explosives to bomb factory pair'

By John Cassidy

Published 18/12/2015

Defendant: Orla O’Hanlon
Defendant: Orla O’Hanlon

A man who was suspected of involvement in the Omagh bomb atrocity is alleged to have supplied explosives which were found in a couple's south Armagh home two years ago, a court has heard.

The claim was made during the trial of Keith McConnan (21) and 20-year old Orla O'Hanlon.

The young couple were arrested in December 2013 after their Forkhill home was searched by police acting under the Justice and Security Act.

The pair have been charged with a string of terrorist offences, including making and possessing explosives.

The charges arise from the discovery in their rented bungalow of an industrial grinder, a "complete" timer power unit and a quantity of crushed ammonium nitrate fertiliser, which the Crown said had been "encountered in improvised explosive substances" across Northern Ireland in the past.

McConnan, from Tievecom Road in Forkhill, and O'Hanlon, from Church Road in the village, deny the charges levelled against them.

They are currently in the middle of non-jury Diplock trial at Belfast Crown Court.

During defence cross-examination, a PSNI detective constable confirmed to the court that a man named only as Mr X had been arrested and questioned over the August 15, 1998 Omagh bomb atrocity in which 29 people died.

Asked by Barry McDonald, defence QC for McConnan, if he was aware that the unnamed man had supplied ammonium nitrate, which was found in the house, the officer said he was not.

Under further questioning the detective said during his research into Mr X he discovered that he had been one of 50 people arrested as part of the investigation into the Omagh bomb.

He also told the court that Mr X had been arrested by An Garda Siochana detectives in connection with the find at the Forkhill home of McConnan and O'Hanlon. He added that the unnamed man was not charged in connection with the Forkhill explosives find. The hearing continues.

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