Real IRA leader guilty over Prince Charles bomb plot

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image captionPrince Charles visited County Sligo in the Republic of Ireland in May 2015

A Real IRA leader has been convicted of playing a leading role in plotting a bomb attack during the state visit of Prince Charles to Ireland in May 2015.

Seamus McGrane, 63, from Little Road, Dromiskin in County Louth, was found guilty of directing the activities of a terrorist organisation.

He was also convicted of IRA membership at Dublin's Special Criminal Court.

He was secretly recorded discussing explosives and a target of "military significance" in a Dublin pub.

image captionThe 2015 state visit included the site where the IRA murdered Prince Charles' great-uncle in 1979

McGrane had met dissident republican Donal Ó Coisdealbha a number of times in the Coachman's Inn early in 2015 to plan a bomb attack during the state visit of Prince Charles, according to Irish broadcaster, RTÉ.

However, gardaí (Irish police) installed listening devices in the building and McGrane was recorded discussing strategy and experiments with explosives, along with his involvement in training paramilitaries.

The court heard he instructed Ó Coisdealbha to "reactivate the science graduate" to get advice on explosives.

He also told him to contact "motorbike man" to collect the explosives, to clean out a cylinder and return a bike, instructing him not to dispose of the vehicle.

'Arsenal of weapons'

The court heard McGrane also told Ó Coisdealbha the target was to have "military significance" and referred to someone "coming on the 19th" - the same day that Prince Charles arrived in Ireland.

When gardaí searched McGrane's home and lands linked to him in Louth and Wexford, they found what the judge described as "a veritable arsenal of weapons and explosives".

Ó Coisdealbha followed through on McGrane's directions and was sentenced to five-and-a-half years in prison last December.

The Dubliner was arrested after gardaí discovered explosive devices, improvised rockets, detonators, timing units and Semtex, which were later put on display.

image captionSome of the weapons seized after Ó Coisdealbha's arrest were put on display by gardaí

During his state visit two years ago, Prince Charles went to County Sligo where his great-uncle Lord Mountbatten was killed in a Provisional IRA bombing in 1979.

It was the first time the prince had visited the site of the murders in Mullaghmore Harbour.

In a speech in Sligo, he said Lord Mountbatten represented "the grandfather I never had" and describe his death as a "deep loss".

image captionPrince Charles said the 1979 bomb that killed his great-uncle caused deep loss

He added that the murder of his great-uncle and three others had given him a profound understanding of how people affected by the Troubles suffered.

McGrane will be sentenced next month.

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