Garda tells trial of 'sensitive' surveillance operation

The head of the Garda National Surveillance Unit told the Special Criminal Court in Dublin today he was involved "in a sensitive operation" during his observation of two men accused of membership of an illegal organisation.

Detective Inspector Kevin Lynch said he was on duty in Dundalk in June last year and he went on to describe seeing each of the accused on different occasions in the Co Louth area.

Detective Inspector Lynch was giving evidence on the second day of the trial of two men who have each denied membership of an illegal organisation styling itself the Irish Republican Army, otherwise Oglaigh na hEireann, otherwise the IRA on June 13 last year.

They are Paul Kelly, aged 40, of Cedarwood Park, Dundalk, Co Louth and Eamonn Matthews, aged 25, of Dublin Road, Killeen, Newry, Co Down. Last week Matthews was cleared of having explosives with intent to endanger life in Co Louth on June 13, 2003.

Detective Inspector Lynch was among a number of members of the National Surveillance Unit who gave evidence today.

He said he saw the accused Matthews driving a jeep in Dundalk on the evening of June 12 and he followed the jeep to Inniskeen village where he saw it turning into a premises used as a workshop by Joe Fee, who last week was convicted of having explosives.

He saw the same jeep later that evening on the Castleblayney road and he followed it and a Nissan Almera car driven by the second accused, Paul Kelly, as they drove in convoy to Fee’s house.

Cross examined by Kelly’s counsel Ms Aileen Donnelly SC, Detective Inspector Lynch said he did not have a camera with him and he added: "This was a very sensitive operation."

He denied a suggestion by Ms Donnelly that he was mistaken in identifying Kelly as the man he saw driving the Nissan Almera on the evening of June 12.

The trial is continuing.

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