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Undercover officers called as witnesses in dissident hearing

September 26, 2016

Almost 30 undercover police officers are set to be cross-examined at a hearing to decide if two alleged dissident republican paramilitaries are to stand trial.

Defence lawyers for Carl Reilly and Paul Crawford, who were targeted in a surveillance operation in Dundalk last year, have requested the officers be called as witnesses in a legal bid to halt the prosecution of the two men.

The pair face charges connected to covert recordings carried out by gardai at the Carrickdale Hotel last year.

Warrenpoint man, Crawford, is currently on bail charged with membership of a proscribed organisation, Oglaigh na hEireann.

Reilly, who is chairman of the Republican Network for Unity (RNU) and with an address at Pollard Close in Belfast, is in custody accused of directing terrorism and belonging to the same illegal grouping.

Lawyers for the men are expected to challenge the strength of the evidence against them at a preliminary inquiry later this year.  The hearing is expected to take four days.

At Belfast Magistrate’s Court last week, defence solicitor Peter Corrigan revealed he has drawn up a list of 27 undercover surveillance officers as part of efforts to establish no prima facie case exists against his clients.

The alleged offences were committed between January 2014 and October 2015.

Previous court sittings have heard claims that Reilly was recorded discussing murder attempts and bombings at the meeting in the Carrickdale Hotel.

Prosecutors claimed that, based on extracts from the transcripts, the 40 year old was exerting a position of authority within both the RNU and Oglaigh na hEireann.

Defence lawyers have questioned the strength of the case however, arguing that it is based on police supposition and opinion, as well as inconsistent Garda statements and poor quality CCTV images.

A date for the preliminary inquiry will be fixed next month.

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