A man from Londonderry who disavowed violence during a High Court bail application has been removed from the republican wing of Maghaberry Prison.
Joseph Barr, with an address in the Creggan area, is charged with a number of offences linked to alleged meetings of the New IRA leadership.
During a bail hearing on Monday, under questioning from Mr Justice Ian Huddleston, when asked about his position on the validity of “armed struggle” Mr Barr told the court: “My position on it now is that it would be counterproductive and unnecessary for people who want a united Ireland.
“I believe in the power of words, persuasion,” he added.
“The pen is mightier than the sword. That’s where I am in life.”
Bail was refused but when he was returned to Roe House, where the republican prisoners are held, he was ordered to return to his cell and pack his belongings.
Within hours he was also removed from the online list of prisoners supported by the Irish Republican Prisoners Welfare Association, which supports Saoradh-linked prisoners.
Sources say relations in Maghaberry among the Saoradh-linked prisoners has deteriorated badly. Saoradh is widely believed to be the political wing of the New IRA.
Mr Barr is the third republican from the North West to disavow violence in open court in the last month, and the fracturing of the organisation within the prison is said to replicate the state of the dissident republican group on the outside.
Republicans from Derry blame Saoradh members from Belfast and Tyrone for being compromised by MI5 agent Dennis McFadden, who showered them with free holidays and tickets to Celtic football matches.
Prison sources say while the ‘leadership’ of the organisation ordered Mr Barr off the wing, some prisoners broke ranks to shake his hand as he was led away by prison officers.
He now being held among the normal prison population in Maghaberry.
Mr Barr had been filmed for an MTV documentary on dissident republicans. Footage from the documentary which had never been made public, was shown to the court during the lengthy bail hearing.
It shows documentary maker Reggie Yates being escorted around the Creggan by Mr Barr and two other members of Saoradh on the night Lyra McKee was shot dead.
During the filming Yates is heard saying: “That sounds like gunshots, so they’re shooting guns, that’s gunfire now. Surely people have got to start heading into their homes now — why would you stand around and watch if rounds were going off?”
Mr Barr has been charged with two further offences linked to the April 2019 disturbance, including taking part in a riot and possession of a petrol bomb.
The 33-year-old is one of a number of people currently in custody following an MI5 surveillance operation into the activities of the New IRA. He is charged with directing its activities and two counts of preparing for acts of terrorism while attending meetings in Omagh organised by MI5 agent Dennis McFadden.
Offending is alleged to have occurred on various dates between February and July 2020.
The other accused are Scottish doctor Issam Bassalat, husband and wife David and Sharon Jordan, as well as Damien Joseph McLaughlin from Dungannon; Kevin Barry Murphy from Coalisland, Amanda McCabe and Shea Reynolds from Lurgan; Patrick McDaid and Gary Hayden from Derry.
In the last month, McDaid and Bassalat have both been granted bail. McDaid’s successful application was granted after his cousin, the former Sinn Fein MLA Raymond McCartney, lodged a £50,000 cash surety. He also publicly disavowed the use violence for political aims. He has been told if convicted he will not be permitted to serve his jail term on the republican wing.
In refusing Barr bail on Monday Mr Justice Huddleston said: “The risk of committing further offences is I regret to say plausible.”
Mr Barr is represented by Ciaran Shiels of Madden and Finucane solicitors. His legal team isexpected to make a further bail application in the coming days after what they say is a change of circumstances.
Mr Shiels told the Belfast Telegraph: “The gravamen of the application will be that there is a material change of circumstances in that any notional allegation of residual risk of committing offences on bail must now be so nebulous in light of the fact that all links with Mr Barr have now been severed by Saoradh, where he formerly had a position of Chairman of that political party in the Derry area and sat on its National Executive”.