Belfast Telegraph

IRA accused arrested at hospital by gardai with guns drawn, court told

By Ruaidhrí Giblin

A man on trial for IRA membership was arrested at the entrance of a hospital in front of a crowd by armed gardai, some of whom had their weapons drawn, a court in the Republic has heard.

Three Dubliners - Donal O'Ceallaigh (33) with an address at Beach Road, Sandymount, as well as Jonathan Hawthorn (45) of Ballintyre Downs in Ballinteer and James Geraghty (61) of Dolphin House in Dolphin's Barn - have pleaded not guilty to membership of an unlawful organisation styling itself the Irish Republican Army, otherwise Oglaigh na hEireann, otherwise the IRA.

The non-jury Special Criminal Court heard previously that gardai, acting on a tip-off from an FBI agent, sent fake explosives to Geraghty's address in Dolphin House. A garda dressed as a DHL driver delivered the package.

Opening the trial last week, prosecution counsel John Byrne told the three-judge court that an undercover member of the FBI had been monitoring activity on the anonymous 'dark net' section of the internet in August 2016.

Dark net sites such as 'AlphaBay' specialise in the sale of illegal material including explosives, counsel said.

Through 'AlphaBay' the FBI agent received a message from a user called 'Meat Cleaver' who was looking for Semtex to be delivered to Ireland.

While the prosecution does not say that 'Meat Cleaver' was an identity used by any of the accused, Mr Byrne said the home of James Geraghty at Dolphin House was identified as the delivery address.

The FBI agent alerted gardai, who created a "mock-up package" designed to mimic what had been ordered by 'Meat Cleaver'.

On the morning in question, an undercover garda dressed as a DHL driver delivered the package to Dolphin House where he met and spoke with Jonathan Hawthorn and Donal O'Ceallaigh. Hawthorn signed for the package in the name of James Geraghty.

Detective Sergeant Padraig Boyce, of the Special Detective Unit, told the court yesterday that he was part of a team involved in an operation in the Dolphin House area of Dublin 8 on the day in question.

He said he became aware that a controlled delivery had taken place at the "target location" - a dwelling in Dolphin House known to be occupied by Hawthorn and O'Ceallaigh.

He said Hawthorn and O'Ceallaigh then left Dolphin House and entered the grounds of St James' Hospital from the South Circular Road.

Mr Boyce was on duty at the front entrance of St James' Hospital at the time and he was aware the controlled delivery had been made.

He said he believed O'Ceallaigh was a member of an unlawful organisation at the time and was engaged in IRA activity.

Accompanied by other members, Mr Boyce said he stopped and detained O'Ceallaigh at 11.32am under Section 30 of the Offences Against the State Act. He said he introduced himself to O'Ceallaigh and produced his official ID. Upon arrest, O'Ceallaigh made no reply and gave his address as Sandymount.

Mr Boyce confirmed that firearms had been drawn by some of his colleagues and there were particular concerns for the safety of the public.

"There was a large crowd in the area" of the hospital at the time, he said.

When asked whether he suspected O'Ceallaigh was in possession of items relevant to the controlled delivery at that time, Mr Boyce said "yes, absolutely".

The trial continues today.

Belfast Telegraph

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