Three men who were arrested in Letterkenny jailed for IRA membership

Three men from the North arrested after gardaí received a tip-off that dissident republicans were about to carry out a "tiger kidnapping" in Co Donegal earlier this year were jailed for membership of the IRA at the Special Criminal Court in Dublin today.

46-year-old Gerard McGarrigle of Mount Carmel Heights, Strabane, 58-year-old Desmond Donnelly of, Lisnarick, Co Fermanagh, and 63-year-old Jim Murphy of Floraville, Enniskillen, had each denied membership of an illegal organisation styling itself on the Irish Republican Army, on February 22 last.

The three men were convicted last month. Today the court jailed Mc Garrigle for five years and Murphy and Donnelly for three years and nine months each.

Mr Justice Paul Butler, presiding, said that Mc Garrigle had three previous convictions in the North for terrorist related offences, including one in 1993 for attempted murder.

He said that both Donnelly and Murphy had no significant previous convictions.

The court heard during the trial that the three accused men were arrested at a garda checkpoint outside Letterkenny in the early hours of February 22 last.

The accused men told gardaí that they had driven to Letterkenny in the hope of getting security work at the Golden Grill nightclub.

Chief Superintendent Michael O' Sullivan gave evidence that he believed the three men were IRA members on February 22.

Mr Justice Paul Butler, presiding, said that the court was satisfied that gardaí did receive intelligence relating to an alleged plot by dissident republicans that involved either a "tiger kidnapping or robbery" and that the intelligence included the names of the three accused.