Continuity IRA, MI5, Newry
Seven men pleaded guilty to charges arising out of a covert MI5 bugging operation against the Continuity IRA in Newry over five years ago.
The men had been due to go on trial next Monday over the undercover eavesdropping operation on a bungalow at Ardcarn Park in the city in 2014 where CIRA meetings had been held. Liam Hannaway, below:
At Belfast Crown Court on Wednesday, the seven defendants were re-arraigned before Mr Justice Colton.
Patrick Joseph ‘Mooch’ Blair (64), of Lissara Heights, Warrenpoint, Co Down, Liam Hannaway (50) of White Rise, Dunmurry in west Belfast, John Sheehy (35), of Erskine Street, Newry and Colin Patrick Winters (48), of Ardcarn Park, Newry, all pleaded guilty to charges of belonging or professing to belong to a proscribed organisation, providing weapons and explosives training, conspiring to possess explosives, firearms and ammunition with intent to endanger life.
They further admitted conspiracy to possess explosives, firearms and ammunition with intent, along with preparing acts of terrorism.
Blair, Hannaway and Winters also admitted collecting information likely to be of use to terrorists.
Sheehy further pleaded guilty to attending a meeting at Ardcarn Park for the purposes of terrorist training. Winters also admitted to allowing his Ardcarn Park home to be used for the purposes of a terrorist meeting.
Seamus Morgan (64), of Barcroft Park, Newry, Kevin John Paul Heaney (46), of Blackstaff Mews, Springfield Road in West Belfast and Terence Marks (49), of Parkhead Crescent, Newry, all pleaded guilty to belonging or professing to belong to a proscribed organisation.
Marks also admitted to a further charge of receiving training in the making or use of explosives for terrorism.
All of the offences took place on dates between August 11, 2014 and November 11, 2014. Mr Justice Colton said he would release all seven defendants on continuing bail.
In a previous court hearing in 2014 it was stated that police believed Winters’ home at Ardcarn Park was being used to host meetings of the Continuity IRA.
MI5 had gained access to the property and planted secret listening devices in a number of rooms. The court heard that suspects in the property had been recorded discussing potential targets for attack, including specific police officers.
A PSNI detective told the court that the suspects were “leading key figures of a proscribed organisation”.