Northern Ireland

MI5 tapes from Newry house 'show dissident tensions'

Newry courthouse

Secret MI5 recordings reveal disputes between rival factions of the Continuity IRA, a court has heard.

Tensions between its Belfast and Newry wings are captured in the recordings, a prosecution lawyer said.

He was opposing a bail application by one of seven men charged with terrorist offences after 70 hours of discussions were taped at a house in Newry.

Seamus Morgan, of Barcroft Park, Newry, is charged with membership of a proscribed organisation. Bail was refused.

Mr Morgan, 58, was one of 12 men arrested during a police raid last week of the house at Ardcarn Park that had been monitored since August. Five others were released pending reports.

A prosecution lawyer told Newry Magistrates Court that the recordings showed Mr Morgan was "clearly a key member" of the Continuity IRA in the city.

His defence lawyer said his client "strenuously denied" the charge.

Proscribed organisation

The court was told that a total of eight meetings were recorded by MI5 prior to the police raid on 10 November.

Mr Morgan was present at two of those meetings and was referred to on five others, the prosecution lawyer told the court.

He said topics discussed at all eight meetings included:

  • Membership of a proscribed organisation
  • Weapons training
  • Funding terrorist activity
  • Plans to commit acts of terrorism
  • Plans to procure firearms and manufacture weapons
  • The structures of the Continuity IRA and recruitment strategies.

The lawyer said the men also expressed annoyance that the Continuity IRA's name was apparently being used to "threaten children and we know nothing about it".

The lawyer said Morgan suggested using the newspapers to make clear that such a threat was not being made by the CIRA in Newry.

'Tip off suspects'

He said the state opposed bail on the grounds that, if released from Maghaberry, the accused could commit further offences, potentially abscond the jurisdiction, and interfere with witnesses or tip off other suspects.

Mr Morgan's defence lawyer said the bail hearing was "not an appropriate forum to conduct a trial".

The lawyer said Mr Morgan's presence at that meeting was entirely innocent as he had gone to meet a friend.

He said his client's case was "distinguishable" from the other six defendants as they were facing much more serious charges.

"It's a significantly different position he is in," he said.

The lawyer said it would be "foolhardy" to consider that his client would contemplate committing offences on bail given his knowledge that the security services were monitoring him.

"He knows MI5 have got him on their radar," he said.

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