Request for garda phone tapes adjourns IRA trial

Lawyers for two men charged with IRA membership have sought confirmation as to whether telephone calls made by their clients from garda stations were recorded, in what is understood to be the first court case affected by the garda phone taping revelations.

Thomas McMahon (aged 31) and his co-accused Noel Noonan (aged 34) were due to stand trial at the Special Criminal Court this morning, but Ms Isobel Kennedy SC said that a matter had arisen “in light of recent events of which we are all aware”.

Counsel for Mr McMahon said the matter “may well have consequences” for the case, but the defence did not know for certain and the issue had to be investigated.

Ms Kennedy told the non-jury court that her client had consulted with his solicitor over the telephone on the evening of February 7, 2013 and she had made an enquiry of the prosecution as to whether this conversation was conducted in private or otherwise.

She said her client was interviewed after this telephone conversation.

Ms Kennedy said the defence were seeking material in relation to the matter and understood that nothing would be forthcoming today. Ms Kennedy said the defence needed clarity in respect of the matter before it could proceed in any capacity with the trial.

Counsel for Mr Noonan, Mr Anthony Sammon SC, said this was also the position in relation to his client, and he had made a similar request for disclosure from the prosecution which he understood could not be answered today.

He agreed with presiding judge Mr Justice Paul Butler, that his client had consulted with his solicitor by telephone and was subsequently interviewed.

Ms Tara Burns SC, for the State, said that all of the guards represented in court “knew nothing about what had to come to light” in the last day and were completely unaware of the matter.

She said the prosecution were not in a position today to confirm whether there were recordings in this case.

Ms Burns asked that the matter be adjourned until Thursday where the prosecution should know that the position is.

In relation to a case due before the court next week, Mr Justice Butler asked Ms Burns to request her solicitor to look at the questions raised today and ascertain from the defence solicitor whether they had any instructions.

He adjourned the trial until tomorrow.

Mr McMahon, of Ros Fearna, Murroe, and Mr Noonan, with an address at St. Patrick’s Hostel, Clare Street, are each charged with membership of an unlawful organisation within the State styling itself the Irish Republican Army, otherwise Oglaigh na hEireann, otherwise the IRA on February 7, 2013.

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