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New IRA: Tyrone woman accused of attending leadership meetings refused bail

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Sharon Jordan

Sharon Jordan

Sharon Jordan

A woman who allegedly attended New IRA leadership meetings to plot acts of terrorism must remain in custody, a judge ruled on Friday.

Sharon Jordan was refused bail at Belfast Magistrates' Court amid claims she was present at secretly recorded gatherings where dissident republicans also discussed securing foreign backing for their campaign.

Prosecution counsel argued: "Those involved in continuing violence for political ends are impermeable to change, (and) this applicant is a paradigm example of that."

Jordan, 45, of Cappagh Road in Dungannon, Co Tyrone, is among 10 people charged as part of a major police and MI5 investigation.

Code-named Operation Arbacia, the surveillance-led offensive against New IRA activities involved bugging two suspected meetings earlier this year.

The case centres on audio and video recordings from properties in Sixmilecross and Omagh, Co Tyrone in February and July.

A previous court was told those present allegedly discussed training, finance and acquisition, along with a potential joint venture with a Middle Eastern grouping.

Defence lawyers have raised issues about entrapment and the reported role of a state agent.

Jordan faces charges of directing terrorism, belonging to a proscribed organisation, and two counts of preparation of terrorist acts.

Opposing bail, the prosecutor claimed she poses a serious risk to the public.

"The prima facie case is this was a group at the highest echelons of the IRA, who were planning, preparing and directing acts of terrorism on a substantial scale," he said.

"Not only to do with that they see as the political situation in Northern Ireland, (but) seeking support from outside Northern Ireland in respect of that as well."

Defence barrister Michael Forde argued that Jordan has health issues which were compounded by the tragic death of her son in Australia two years ago.

He also predicted any trial will be seriously delayed due to the number of defendants and the impact of Covid-19.

"This lady, who enjoys the presumption of innocence, would remain in custody for a very significant period of time," Mr Forde stressed.

Bail was denied, however, due to the risks of further offences and flight.

District Judge George Conner said: "Clearly these alleged offences are of the most serious character."

He added: "I feel, if necessary, she might flee the jurisdiction and I can also see the benefit of someone in this organisation having international contacts."

Belfast Telegraph