Three men and two women are to stand trial accused of Provisional IRA membership more than a decade ago, a judge ruled yesterday.
The accused include senior Sinn Fein figure Padraic Wilson and Seamus Finucane, a brother of murdered Belfast solicitor Pat Finucane.
In an unusual development, the judge yesterday imposed reporting restrictions on the case but later the Courts Service confirmed the defendants can be named.
Wilson, 54, with an address at Sinn Fein’s Falls Road office, and Finucane, 56, of Hawthorn Hill, Hannahstown, appeared before Belfast Magistrates’ Court to decide if they have a case to answer. Alongside them were Agnes McCrory, 73, of Dermott Hill Road; Briege Wright, 56, from Glassmullin Gardens; and Martin Edward Morris, 49, with an address at Wellbeck Road in London.
It is alleged that all five belonged to a proscribed organisation, namely the Provisional IRA, on dates between 1997 and 2000.
The full details of charges in the case cannot be disclosed for legal reasons.
A preliminary investigation was due to be held to test the strength of the prosecution case. But following private discussions it was decided to proceed with a shorter hearing.
District Judge George Conner agreed to return all five defendants for trial at Belfast Crown Court on a date to be fixed. They were all released on £250 bail to appear again when those proceedings get under way.
An original ban on publishing the defendants’ identities had been lifted in October last year. Following yesterday’s hearing the Courts Service indicated that the reporting restrictions were being reinstated until the case reaches the Crown Court. But a spokesman later said the judge has decided against a ban on naming defendants.