Northern Ireland

Alleged CIRA members were plotting policing board attacks, Belfast court hears

High Court, Belfast
Image caption Prosecutors claimed at the High Court in Belfast that the group explored the possibilities of transporting a bomb in a loaf of bread

Alleged Continuity IRA members were secretly recorded plotting attacks on Northern Ireland Policing Board meetings, the High Court in Belfast has heard.

Kevin Heaney, 41, of Mourne View Park, Newry, faces charges of belonging to the IRA.

He is also charged with receiving training in bomb making.

Mr Heaney was refused bail as more details of an MI5 operation at a house in Newry were disclosed.

The property at Ardcarn Park had been bugged for three months before it was raided last November.

Prosecutors said bomb-making classes and discussions about setting up regional factories for explosives were also captured on tape.

A total of nine meetings were recorded, with issues allegedly under discussion including membership of an outlawed organisation, weapons procurement and training, terrorist funding, the construction of pipe bombs and plans to commit acts of terrorism.

Based on voice analysis Mr Heaney is alleged to have been present four times during September and October.

Prosecution counsel claimed the first of those occasions involved talks about the locations of Policing Board meetings in Newry and potential attacks on staff members.

Planning the shooting of businessmen whose premises hosted PSNI events was also covered, it was claimed.

'Telescopic sight'

"The applicant also identifies a local hotel as a location used by the Policing Board during community meetings, and there's a discussion on taking action against staff for letting police use these premises," the prosecutor said.

The court heard claims that Mr Heaney and co-accused Patrick 'Mooch' Blair, a 59-year-old from Villas Park in Dundalk, County Louth, were the only ones present at a second meeting.

On that occasion they allegedly talked about making bombs.

Mr Heaney allegedly returned to the house a third time where those gathered discussed purchasing a telescopic sight and silencer for £2,000, and the capabilities of a rifle and high-powered round of ammunition.

A defence barrister argued that the accused had an entitlement to bail, irrespective of the "heinous" charges against him.

He also argued that any risk of re-offending had been nullified by the number of suspects remanded in custody following the operation.

"With 10 people arrested and associated with this address this has, for all intents and purposes, if the prosecution case is correct, wiped out the organisational structure of what they claim to be this organisation," the lawyer contended.

But refusing bail, the judge held there was a risk of further crimes being committed.