Real IRA leader guilty of planning attack during Prince Charles visit
A REAL IRA leader who plotted an explosion during a visit by Prince Charles has been found guilty 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 Republic.
His ally Michael McKevitt was jailed for 20 years in 2003 for directing terrorism.
The court found yesterday that McGrane (63) discussed an operation involving explosives in the run-up to the visit of Prince Charles two years ago.
McGrane, of Little Road, Dromiskin, Co Louth was convicted of directing the activities of an unlawful organisation, the IRA, between April 19 and May 13, 2015.
He was also convicted of membership. He had denied both charges.
McGrane was bugged by gardai as he plotted in a well-known Dublin pub with another man to carry out an operation involving explosives ahead of the visit.
The Garda National Surveillance Unit planted a sophisticated listening device in the snug of the Coachman’s Inn on the Airport Road, which recorded conversations between McGrane - a founder of the Real IRA - and engineering graduate Donal O Coisdealbha.
O Coisdealbha from Abbeyfield, Killester in Dublin was sentenced to five-and-half years in prison in December after being arrested on explosive charges in the lead up to Prince Charles's visit.
During McGrane’s trial at the Special Criminal Court, during which there was no cross-examination of prosecution witnesses, the court heard recordings of the conversations.
McGrane told O Coisdealbha: "Go with whatever plan you wish. I think he’s coming on the 19th (a reference to Prince Charles)". I don’t like an embarrassment.” McGrane then mentioned “military significance.”
“Symbolic,” O’Cosidealbha replied. “Symbolic is right,” replied McGrane. The two men were heard in the recording of April 19 discussing a location “around 400 metres from the target.”
Detective Sergeant Padraig Boyce said that the location being discussed was approximately 400 metres from the Cross of Sacrifice, a monument in Glasnevin Cemetery commemorating British and Irish soldiers who fought in World War 1.
The two men were also recorded discussing a bomb found on a train line in Northern Ireland in February 2015 and an attack on MI5 Headquarters in London in April, 2010.
The court also heard that gardai found bomb making components in a field adjacent to McGrane’s house.
Convicting McGrane yesterday, Justice Isobel Kennedy, presiding at the non jury court, said that there was "the clearest evidence of directing an illegal organisation".
She said that there was evidence from the two audio recordings, from April and May 2015. McGrane had issued instructions to 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 May 19, 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 April 12, 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 McGrane’s house, which included ammunition, a revolver, mortar parts and bomb making components.
Justice Kennedy, presiding, sitting with Judge Sinead Ni Chulachain and Judge Cormac Dunne, remanded McGrane in custody for sentencing on November 14.