Belfast Telegraph

Trio from Republic arrested at dissident funeral granted bail

By Alan Erwin

Three men accused of wearing paramilitary-style clothing at the funeral of a murdered dissident republican have been granted High Court bail.

Conor Metcalfe, John Christie and Patrick Lavin, who are all from the Republic, are to be released from custody on condition they keep out of Strabane in Co Tyrone.

The trio were detained following the funeral of senior republican figure Michael Barr in the town last Thursday.

Barr, a 34-year-old from Strabane, was shot dead in a Dublin pub on April 25. His killing has been linked to a bitter feud between warring Irish gangland bosses.

Metcalfe (25) of Monasteoy Park in Dublin, Christie (52) from Ratoath, Co Meath, and Lavin, also aged 52, of Deansrath in Dublin, are jointly charged with wearing clothing in a way to arouse suspicions they were members or supporters of a proscribed organisation.

Hundreds of mourners had attended the murder victim's funeral Mass. A number dressed in paramilitary-style uniform were seen flanking the cortege on its way to the church.

Fifteen men were arrested after police swooped on a number of vehicles following the service and all were questioned about alleged membership of a dissident republican grouping known as the New IRA. Police released 12 of them pending a report to the Public Prosecution Service.

At a previous hearing bail was opposed because of tensions in areas including Strabane and Derry, as well as fears that Metcalfe, Christie and Lavin would fail to appear in future.

However, it was confirmed yesterday that Lord Justice Gillen had granted their applications for release from custody.

All three accused are to provide sureties and abide by a prohibition on entering the town of Strabane, the Courts Service said.

Belfast Telegraph

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