Men convicted of IRA membership following Letterkenny arrest launch appeal

The Court of Criminal Appeal has reserved judgement in the case of three Northern Ireland men appealing against their convictions for membership of the IRA.

In November 2010, Gerard McGarrigle, Desmond Donnelly and Jim Murphy  were convicted of membership of an illegal organisation styling itself the Irish Republican Army, otherwise Oglaigh na hÉireann, otherwise the IRA on February 22nd of the same year.

The court heard that the three men were arrested at a Garda checkpoint outside Letterkenny in the early hours of February 22, 2010.

Gardaí uncovered an imitation firearm, cable ties, latex gloves, bin liners, a pair of kevlar gloves and insulation tape after a search of the vehicle the men were travelling in.

The accused men told gardaí that they had driven to Letterkenny in the hope of securing security work at a nightclub in the vicinity of Port Road.

The Irish Examiner reports that Counsel for Gerard McGarrigle from Strabane, told the court that the arrest of his client was unlawful as insufficient information had been conveyed to him about why he was being arrested, such as the time and place he was alleged to be a member of an illegal organisation.

Mr McGuiness said that questions put to his client in certain interviews regarding the items found in the car could not have been of material significance because his client had already denied he was a member of the IRA, had admitted ownership of the Kevlar gloves but had denied any knowledge of the other items in the car, of which he was not the owner.

He said the trial court in its judgement had accepted that there was no proof beyond a reasonable doubt that any of the items found in the car gave rise to a finding that this was an “IRA raiding party”.

Presiding judge Mr Justice Donal O’Donnell, sitting with Mr Justice George Birmingham and Mr Justice Gerard Hogan, said the court would reserve its judgement until a later date.