Court reserves judgement in Louth IRA membership trial
on 22/10/2012 13:24:18
Neil Smith (aged 35), of Tubberfinn, Donore, Drogheda, Co Louth, has pleaded not guilty to membership of an unlawful organisation styling itself the Irish Republican Army, otherwise Oglaigh na hÉireann, otherwise the IRA on August 8, 2010.
The court has heard that Smith was arrested when gardaí stopped two cars which had been under surveillance in Co Louth. Smith was the front seat passenger in one of the cars.
Chief Superintendent Jim Sheridan gave evidence that he believed Smith was an IRA member.
But Smith in evidence told his defence counsel, Mr Dominic McGinn SC, that powerlifting was the "number one thing" in his life and that he had represented Ireland internationally in the weightlifting sport.
He said he was "totally surprised" when gardaí stopped the Ford Galaxy and that he was "certainly not" a member of the IRA and had no sympathies toward them.
The trial heard from surveillance gardaí who gave evidence on the movements of five men travelling in two cars - a black BMW car and a beige Ford Galaxy MPV-on the morning of August 8th.
When gardaí stopped the BMW, they found a sawn-off shotgun loaded with two cartridges, a black balaclava and a Hallowe'en mask. Follow-up enquiries revealed that the car had been stolen and fitted with false number plates.
Mr Smith was a passenger in the Ford Galaxy, where gardaí found a jacket containing a black hat with two holes cut in to it and two shotgun cartridges. It is the prosecution case that the two cars were driving in convoy.