A Dublin man has lost an appeal against his conviction for IRA membership following a threat to shoot an accident victim if he did not withdraw an insurance claim against his former employer.
The Court of Appeal dismissed all grounds of the appeal by Ciaran Maguire (32), who was jailed for four years and 11 months after he and his co-accused Kevin Braney (46) were convicted of IRA membership by the Special Criminal Court in May 2018.
Maguire, of Kippure Park in Finglas and Braney, of Glenshane Crescent in Tallaght had denied membership of an unlawful organisation, styling itself the Irish Republican Army, otherwise Oglaigh na hEireann, otherwise the IRA on August 2nd, 2017.
Evidence was heard that the two men had travelled from Dublin to an estate in Co Meath on July 13th, 2017 to warn an individual that they were from the IRA and would shoot him if he did not drop his claim against a former employer. The man had fractured his arm, wrist and pelvis after falling off a roof.
Paul Carroll SC had put forward a number of grounds on Maguire's behalf. Counsel argued that his client’s arrest was unlawful due to the failure to seek a warrant for his re-arrest. This was in circumstances where he had previously been arrested in June 2015 in Donegal for the offence of membership.
Fiona Murphy SC responded on behalf of the DPP. She noted that, in this case, Maguire was charged with being a member of the IRA on a specific date: August 2nd, 2017. She submitted that the suggestion that this was the same offence as the earlier Donegal offence was simply not borne out by the evidence in the case.
Mr Carroll also claimed that the prosecution had failed to prove the lawfulness of surveillance evidence which showed the accused travelling to the housing estate where the victim lived.
In addition, counsel argued that the three-judge Special Criminal Court had erred in admitting inferences from Maguire’s failure to respond to material questions put to him by gardaí. It was also claimed that the trial was unfair as it was submitted that the court repeatedly interrupted the cross-examination of a key witness.
The Court of Appeal, consisting of Mr Justice John Edwards, presiding, with Mr Justice Patrick McCarthy and Ms Justice Isobel Kennedy, found that individuals may be rearrested without a warrant in relation to membership of an unlawful organisation where the subsequent arrest can be distinguished from the original arrest.
It also found that the visual evidence of gardaí carrying out surveillance was admissible and ruled that the interventions by the Special Criminal Court during the cross-examination of the key witness were not unfair and did not protect the witness.
In a written judgement, Ms Justice Kennedy said the Court of Appeal was also satisfied that the inferences drawn from an interview between a detective garda and Maguire were lawful.