Belfast Telegraph

Man ‘active in IRA service unit’ is granted bail

By Paul Higgins

A man police claim is an "active member of a service unit for the IRA" allegedly targeting police officers has been granted bail.

Despite police objections at Lisburn Magistrates Court that 47-year-old Damien Duffy was "highly likely" to commit further offences or abscond to the Republic of Ireland if freed, District Judge Mark Hamill said that given the fact his two co-accused have been released, he would grant bail but with numerous conditions.

The judge warned, however, that the prosecution "have a four hour window" to decide whether to appeal his ruling at the High Court.

Duffy, from Westclare Court in Dungannon, and who is a brother of prominent republican Colin Duffy, had been on remand at Maghaberry prison on a charge of preparation of terrorist acts, namely targeting a former member of the security forces, in September 2016.

Facing the same charge are Lurgan men Ciaran Magee (24), from Lake Street, and Shea Reynolds (22), from the Kilwilkie Road, both of whom have been granted bail.

Giving evidence to the court yesterday, a detective sergeant described how police launched a lengthy covert surveillance operation in the Lurgan area.

At the end of it they uncovered a camera which had been recording footage at the home of a retired police officer and on a road routinely used by officers going to and from Cookstown PSNI station.

He said the investigation "centres around the New IRA" in Craigavon and Coalisland, and that police believe Damien Duffy is an "active member of a service unit for the IRA... and was involved in attempting to gather information of potential targets and victims".

The officer told the court that on a memory card recovered from the camera, which was set to take 20-second videos and had a movement sensor, officers found 200 clips including a number which recorded Duffy himself and the inside of his home.

Arrested on September 21 and interviewed over five days, Damien Duffy "chose to remain silent", said the officer.

Asked by Judge Hamill what distinguished Duffy from his co-accused, the detective claimed there was "a stronger case perhaps" against him, adding that given the support network for such an organisation, he may abscond to the Republic.

Defence barrister Sean Devine highlighted however that previously, Duffy had twice been granted compassionate bail with no problems and had been on bail for 20 months for a more serious offence which he was ultimately acquitted of, again with no issues or breaches.

Judge Hamill said he would release Duffy on his own bail of £500 with a £2,000 cash surety along with numerous conditions.

Belfast Telegraph

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