Real IRA

Real IRA
Dissident republicans

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Dissident republicans, the ira, colin duffy, weapons, Belfast conviction

Dissident republicans, the ira, colin duffy, weapons, Belfast conviction

At Belfast Crown Court Judge David McFarland told 70-year-old Thomas Joseph Maguire on Thursday; "We have now moved on but sadly, you are not moving on with the times.

"This isn't just a case of a pike in a thatch, that doesn't apply to modern Ireland."

The Recorder of Belfast had heard that Maguire, was jailed for 20 years back in 1975 for having explosives with intent to endanger life, was caught red-handed with the items when police stopped his Ford Mondeo car after a high speed chase on 2 August 2011.

Prosecuting lawyer Kate McKay outlined how cops uncovered a coffee jar bomb, component parts for other bombs and a wide variety of guns, 100 rounds of assorted bullets and suspected shotgun propellant.

Officers had been led "fortuitously" to his home address on Suffolk Drive in west Belfast after his fingerprint was found on the sliding mechanism of a semi-automatic pistol found during searches in Newry in September 2010 when anti-terrorist cops raided a firearms workshop.

Last March 56-year-old Bryan 'the link' McManus from Aileen Terrace in Newry was also jailed for six-and-a-half years after the engineer admitted that he had been involved in re-activating weaponry for dissident republicans.

McManus had pleaded guilty to possessing eight handguns, a rifle including a gun which was disguised as a walking stick, a quantity of assorted ammunition and to conspiring with another person not before the court to convert imitation guns into firearms on dates between 1 September 2007 and 24 September 2010.

If there is criticism it is that he is living in the past and has not got the idea that decommissioning was supposed to have happened quite a long time ago.

Defence QC Frank O'Donoghue

On Thursday Ms McKay told the court that during two days of questioning, Maguire had refused to answer but that he later pleaded guilty to a total of seven offences of having the firearms and explosives with intent to endanger life and under suspicious circumstances and having articles for use in terrorism on 2 August 2011.

Maguire had also admitted having the semi-automatic pistol which was found during the Newry searches, also with intent and under suspicious circumstances on dates between 1 September 2007 and 1 September 2010.

"Police would accept that if his print had not been found in the workshop [of McManus], effectively they would not have become aware but officers are concerned about the nature of the weapons and the use that they have been put to in recent years," said the lawyer adding that although Maguire's criminal record is old "it is significant".

Defence QC Frank O'Donoghue said it was a "most unusual...and striking case" that a man "of his old age if not his dotage is involving himself in something that's really now beyond his age group and well beyond his capacity".

"He seems to dwell in the past," said the lawyer adding that he had the weaponry more "to protect his community" rather than any attack on security personnel.

Mr O'Donoghue revealed how Maguire had access to the weaponry whilst being involved in a west Belfast museum to commemorate the Troubles.

Jailing Maguire, Judge McFarland told him he seemed "to be someone who just can't let go of the past".

In a statement released from the PSNI, Detective Superintendent Glenn Wright, from Serious Crime Branch, said: "Police will leave no stone unturned in our efforts to bring before the courts all those involved in terrorist-linked offences, regardless of age.

"We will pursue every strand of evidence to ensure we maximise all investigative and forensic opportunities. The community which we are pledged to serve and our colleagues who we are determined to protect deserve nothing less. Our work will continue. We would ask people to work with us to keep everyone safe."

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