Man accused of being at ‘CIRA meetings’ refused bail


A man accused of being at meetings where suspected Continuity IRA chiefs plotted terror attacks must remain in custody, a High Court judge has ruled.

Lord Justice Coghlin refused to grant Seamus Morgan bail after hearing claims that secretly recorded conversations identified shooting targets and explored how to construct explosives and smuggle a weapon inside a loaf of bread.

Citing the risk of further offences, he said the allegations relate to a “pseudo military organisation” whose aims went against “the views of virtually everyone living on this island”.

Morgan, of Barcroft Park in Newry, is accused of belonging to a proscribed organisation.

The 59-year-old is among 10 men charged in connection with a covert MI5 operation at a house in the city.

The property at Ardcarn Park was raided on November 10 after being bugged for three months.

At previous court hearings it was claimed the tapes had uncovered dissident plots to kill judges, PSNI officers and carry out strikes on Policing Board meetings.

A total of nine meetings were recorded, with each of the suspects said to have been present on at least one occasion.

Prosecution counsel said topics discussed included:

• Membership of a proscribed organisation.

• Weapons training.

• Terrorist funding.

• Plans to commit acts of terrorism.

• Plans to procure and manufacture weapons.

• Conversations related to conspiracy to murder and possession of firearms and explosives.

• The structures of the Continuity IRA and recruitment strategies.

Morgan is alleged to have been at three of the meetings in October and November.

At the first of them conversations centred on the inability to do jobs without weapons, punishment attacks and identifying targets for shootings, the court heard.

Those present also allegedly discussed dealing with local youths causing annoyance in the name of the Continuity IRA, with a statement to be issued warning anyone doing so would be “severely punished”.

The prosecutor claimed he was then at a second meeting which explored anti-social behaviour, having household items for bomb-making which could be used as evidence against them, recruiting individuals to be kept “under the radar”, and repairing guns.

She added that the men also talked about transporting a small weapon in a loaf of bread and getting items to make improvised explosive devices.

At the final meeting discussions focused on financing, “taking on a 15-year-old” and other punishment attacks, and advice on setting up a “tight unit”, it was claimed.

According to the barrister they also considered recruiting educated young people with driving licences.

Preliminary results from voice attribution analysis indicates Morgan spoke during the covert recordings, she added.

Defence counsel argued that if Morgan had been involved in the conversations he would be facing more than just a membership charge.

However, refusing bail, Lord Justice Coghlin stressed that terrorist offences carry a higher risk of serious violence than so-called ordinary crimes.

The judge said: “The offence with which this man is charged involve a serious risk of damage, injury and death to the ordinary population of this island.”