IRA accused protests use of court video link

A man charged with IRA membership and the possession of a handgun has protested the use of video link to facilitate his appearance in court.

Michael Finlay (aged 35) and his co-accused Dean Byrne (aged 22) were arrested by members of the Special Detective Unit and the garda Crime and Security branch after an operation in Tallaght in south Dublin in June.

Appearing via video link from Portlaoise Prison this morning, Mr Finlay said he wished to protest not being physically present in court, which he said was in breach of his constitutional rights.

The accused requested his presence at any or all future proceedings and asked his legal representatives to make representations to that end.

Failing this, Mr Finlay said he would have to consider “further action” and representations should his rights “be further impinged upon”.

State Solicitor Mr Michael O’Donovan said the matter was listed today to indicate when the book of evidence will be ready, and he asked for a remand back to a date in the next court term – which begins in October - for service of the book.

Mr Michael Bowman BL, for Mr Byrne, said there was no objection to the matter being put back to complete the book of evidence.

Mr Finlay’s solicitor said he was constrained by instructions to protest his client’s non-appearance at court and told the court that Mr Finlay saw his non-appearance as consistent with his non-participation in proceedings.

Presiding judge Mr Justice Paul Bulter said the general “modus operandi” of the court was that if nothing was being done in the case, the court would facilitate everybody by doing the case by video link.

However, he said if the book of evidence was being served or someone wanted to give evidence, the court would insist on them being produced.

Mr Justice Butler said the court would make a production order for Mr Finlay for service of the book of evidence on November 11 next.

Mr Finlay, of Maplewood Road, Tallaght, and Mr Byrne, of Drumcairn Park, Tallaght are both charged with membership of an unlawful organisation within the State styling itself the Irish Republican Army, otherwise Oglaigh na hEireann, otherwise the IRA on June 5, 2014.

The men are also charged with the unlawful possession of a 9x18mm calibre Makarov PM semi-automatic pistol and magazine and 10 rounds of 9x18mm BR calibre Sellier & Bellot ammunition at Glenshane Crescent, Tallaght on June 5, 2014.

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