Five face serious dissident charges

Five men will appear in court on Saturday on charges connected to a major investigation into dissident republican activity.

Three aged 41, 42 and 47 face counts of conspiracy to murder, conspiracy to cause an explosion, preparation of terrorist acts and collecting information of use to terrorism.

The 47-year-old has also been charged with directing terrorism.

What is unusual about this is that the police have thanked the Security Service – MI5. They rarely make any reference to the intelligence services, particularly at this stage in the process.

UTV’s Sharon O’Neill

The trio were arrested in Lurgan, Co Armagh, on Monday.

A PSNI statement said: “The charges, some of which have been used seldom in the past in Northern Ireland, are the result of an investigation led by police into dissident republican terrorist activity.

“Officers have worked closely with colleagues in the Security Service and, latterly, with the Public Prosecution Service to reach a point where charges have been brought.”

A further two men aged 33 and 34, who were arrested in Carrickmore and Omagh last Saturday, have been charged with possession of a firearm with intent to endanger life, attendance at a place used for terrorist training and preparation of terrorist acts.

They will appear at court in Omagh, also on Saturday.

Police added that a 37-year-old woman and a 46-year-old man arrested in Pomeroy and Toome last weekend as part of the same investigation remain in custody.

The investigation is ongoing.


IRA memorial funding dispute

A row has erupted at Stormont after it was revealed an IRA monument in Co Armagh could be eligible to receive a facelift using European funding.

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The Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (DARD) recently agreed to assess an application from the Crossmaglen Memorial Heritage Committee, which means the monument could be eligible to receive funding of up to £30,000.

TUV leader Jim Allister said if the application goes ahead, it will be “an appalling abuse of rural development and funding”.

“This application should’ve been put in the bin the very day it arrived,” he told UTV.

“We’ve a minister who’s supposed, under her code of conduct, to be all-embracing and moving on, and here she is considering an application to refurbish a monument to glorify terrorism.”

Agriculture Minister Michelle O’Neill said the proposal from the Heritage committee is “for the preservation, updating and completion of a monument located in the square in Crossmaglen.

“This involves the addition of several plaques to the existing monument. The wording of the plaques relates to the background and siting of the monument, and information about the sculpture,” the Sinn Féin minister said.

The proposal is being reviewed by a cluster group made up of councils in the southern area and Minister O’Neill said any decision to fund the project will be made by the Joint Council Committee.

A spokesperson for Sinn Féin did not confirm whether or not the party was supporting the application, but said: “We understand that an application has been made but all applications are subject to a consideration process and set criteria”.

It is not yet known when a decision on the application will be made, but the TUV says if it gets the green light, the party is determined to fight it.


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