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IRA member becomes only the second person ever convicted of directing terrorism in Ireland

Two men discussed an operation involving explosives in the run-up to the State visit of Prince Charles two years ago.

File: The 32 County Sovereignty Movement Easter Commemoration in 2011 sees a member of the Real IRA read a statement.
File: The 32 County Sovereignty Movement Easter Commemoration in 2011 sees a member of the Real IRA read a statement.
Image: Laura Hutton/RollingNews.ie

A REAL IRA leader who plotted an explosion during the State visit of Britain’s Prince Charles two years ago has been found guilty by the Special Criminal Court of directing the activities of a terrorist organisation.

Seamus McGrane, who was also convicted of IRA membership, is only the second person to be convicted of directing terrorism in the State. His ally Michael McKevitt was jailed for 20 years in 2003 for directing terrorism.

The court found today that Seamus McGrane (63) discussed an operation involving explosives in the run-up to the State visit of Prince Charles two years ago.

McGrane, of Little Road, Dromiskin, County Louth was convicted of directing the activities of an unlawful organisation, styling itself the Irish Republican Army, otherwise Oglaigh na hEireann, otherwise the IRA, between the dates of 19 April and 13 May, 2015.

He was also convicted of membership of the IRA between 18 January 2010 and 13 May 2015. He had denied both charges.

Convicting McGrane, Ms Justice Isobel Kennedy, presiding at the non jury court, said that there was “the clearest evidence of directing an illegal organisation”.

Recordings

She said that there was evidence from two audio recordings, from April and May 2015, of McGrane and Donal O’Coisdealbha in conversation in the snug of The Coachman’s Inn on the Airport Road – a pub that had been bugged by Garda detectives.

McGrane had issued instructions to Mr O’Coisdealbha regarding meeting other people and had made statements about providing bomb-making material for others.

McGrane mentioned experimenting with the development of explosives and discussed strategy and his involvement in training people in the IRA and “swearing in” people to the organisation.

The judge said the recording also referred to a “military operation” of significance and “the main attack” on 19 May, the date that Prince Charles was due to carry out a State visit.

McGrane had also referred in the recordings to an attack on Palace Barracks -the MI5 Headquarters in Northern Ireland – on 12 April 2010 and to a bomb on a railway line.

She added that gardai had discovered “a veritable arsenal of weapons and explosives substances” in hides on land adjoining Mc Grane’s house , which included ammunition, a revolver, mortar parts and bomb making components.

Ms Justice Isobel Kennedy, presiding, sitting with Judge Sinead Ni Chulachain and Judge Cormac Dunne, remanded Mr McGrane in custody for sentencing on 14 November.

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Diarmaid Mac Dermott

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