IRA Attacks on Drug dealers for Protection Money
Four men went on trial in Belfast facing a total of nine terrorist related charges between them, including IRA membership, possession of firearms, conspiracy to attack suspected drug dealers, collecting information on dealers and possessing materials useful to terrorists.
The four men refused to stand at the start of the Diplock-style non-jury trial before Crown Court Judge Patricia Smyth.
The court was told the men could allegedly be identified from covert voice recordings made by the security services.
A senior prosecution barrister further claimed the recordings, made between December 2013 and May the following year, taken together with other circumstantial evidence, the court could infer "that they are members of the IRA, carrying out activities on behalf of the IRA".
On trial are 52-year-old Dunmurry men, Mark Gerard Heaney of Lagmore Gardens, and Daniel Joseph Anthony McClean of Lagmore Gardens, and west Belfast men, 62-year-old Kevin O'Neill from Coolnasilla Park south and 41-year-old Robert Warnock O'Neill of Bingnian Drive.
All are accused of IRA membership between December 2013 and June 2014, and conspiracy to inflict grievous bodily harm on a suspected drug dealer.
Heaney and Robert O'Neill also face separate charges of possessing a firearm with intent and under suspicious circumstances, and with McClean also with collecting information on drug dealers and falsely imprisoning a suspected dealer.
Kevin O'Neill alone is additionally charged with possessing articles useful to terrorists including an imitation firearm, camouflage jackets and black gloves, allegedly uncovered during a search of his home following his arrest in June 2014.
The trial continues on Wednesday when the court will hear a number of defence legal submissions on the admissibility as evidence of the alleged covert recordings of the men.
IRA, Diplock Court Belfast, Kevin O Neill, Joseph McClean, Mark Heaney, Robert O Neil