Even their cloths were bugged
THREE leading dissident republicans charged with conspiracy to murder were subject to covert surveillance on an unprecedented scale, The Irish News has learned.
Colin Duffy, Alec McMcrory, and Harry Fitzsimmons appeared in court this week accused of paramilitary offences. No details were given of the evidence against them. However, it is understood that all three have been under a lengthy period of sophisticated surveillance with MI5 assisting the PSNI/RUC in tracking their movements. The levels of monitoring were unprecedented in scale and included the placing of tiny listening devices in items of clothing. Tracking devices were also used and open spaces – including a green in Co Armagh were Duffy (46) was known to frequently walk – were fitted with hidden spying technology. Gardai have also been assisting the PSNI/RUC as part of a cross-border crackdown on dissidents, monitoring suspects when they travelled to the Republic.
A house in Co Louth visited by Duffy and former IRA prisoner McCrory (52) is believed to have been under surveillance and fitted with listening devices. Under Home Office guidelines authorisation for ‘intrusive ssurveillance’ must be given by the secretary of state and can be granted for periods of six months at a time, providing its use is in the interests of ‘national security’. Although covertly gathered evidence has been used in the North of Ireland in the past, the monitoring surrounding Duffy is on a level never seen before. During the trial of teenager John Paul Wotton for the murder of Constable Stephen Carroll the court was told a military tracking device had been fitted to his vehicle. On Monday a workman in Craigavon, Co Armagh, found a military tracking device under the wheel arch of his van. This week Duffy, Fitzsimmons and McCrory were each charged with conspiracy to murder, conspiring to possess firearms and explosives with intent to endanger life and belonging to a proscribed organisation. McCrory and Fitzsimmons were also accused of involvement in a gun attack on Crumlin Road in North Belfast on December 5 and possession of a firearm with intent. The offences cover a period between January 1 and December 16 this year, although Fitzsimmons (45) was only freed from prison in May after serving a jail term for the attempted kidnapping of Bobby To hill in 2004. The trio did not seek bail.
With many thanks to: Allison Morris, The Irish News.
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- NI paramilitary war (almost) reaches Scotland (politics.ie)
- Standing room only as accused appear (seachranaidhe1.wordpress.com)
- Police banned from east Belfast bar after links to attempted dissident bomb attacks (belfasttelegraph.co.uk)