MI5 recordings expose tensions within Continuity IRA, court hears

November 24, 2014

Secret MI5 recordings have revealed tensions between factions within the Continuity IRA, a court has heard.

The disclosure was made in Newry Magistrates’ Court on Wednesday during a bail hearing for one of the 12 men arrested during a police sting operation in Ardcarne Park in the city on 10th November.

Opposing the bail application for Seamus Morgan (58) of Barcroft Park, a prosecution lawyer claimed information gleaned from a total of eight secretly recorded meetings, two of which the accused was present, show him to be “a key member” of the Continuity IRA in Newry.  Facing the solitary charge of membership of a proscribed organization, Morgan’s defense lawyer says he “strenuously denies” the charge.

The prosecution lawyer revealed that topics discussed during the meetings included weapons training, plans to procure weapons and recruitment strategies for the Continuity IRA.  Frustration at people using their name to deal with youths in the Newry area was also debated.

A conversation between Morgan and another of the co-accused, Colin Winters, at whose home the raid took place, contained references to tensions between the Newry and Belfast wings of the Continuity IRA, he added.

The lawyer opposed bail on the grounds that the accused could commit further offences, potentially abscond the jurisdiction and interfere with witnesses or tip off other suspects.

Morgan’s defense lawyer stressed that the bail hearing was “not an appropriate forum to conduct a trial” and that his client’s case was “distinguishable” from the other six co-accused as they are facing more serious charges.

Challenging the prosecution grounds for opposing bail, the lawyer said it would be “foolhardy” to consider that his client would contemplate committing offences on bail given his knowledge that the security services were monitoring him.

“He knows MI5 have got him on their radar,” he said.

Judge Eamon King said he was satisfied that all three concerns flagged up by the prosecution in opposing bail had merit and bail was refused.

Morgan and the six other defendants will appear in the court again via video-link on December 10th.