Northern Ireland

Kevin Barry Murphy has bail varied to allow him to have contact with his two brothers

Co Tyrone man Kevin Barry Murphy
Co Tyrone man Kevin Barry Murphy

THE alleged ‘chief of staff’ of the New IRA is to have his bail varied to allow him to have contact with his two brothers.

Kevin Barry Murphy applied at the High Court to have his conditions changed to allow him to resume contact with his brothers Dominic and Anthony.

Murphy (52), of Cappagh Road in Dungannon, Co Tyrone, is one of nine people charged as part of ‘Operation Arbacia’ with offences of directing the activities of a terrorist organisation, conspiring to direct terrorism and preparing terrorist acts.

Operation Arbacia was a covert operation by the PSNI’s Terrorism Investigation Unit and MI5 which secretly bugged two meetings held by the New IRA in February and July 2020 at rented properties in Co Tyrone.

He was granted bail on strict conditions.

During a bail variation hearing on Thursday, Mr Justice O’Hara enquired of the prosecution: “Were Mr Murphy’s brothers allowed to visit him in prison?’’

A prosecution barrister replied: “Yes. They were. His two brothers did visit him in prison. They were permitted to attend the prison.

“My instructions are there should not be contact between Mr Murphy and his two brothers.”

A defence barrister said Murphy’s brothers both had convictions going back prior to 1998 and “the whole point of the Good Friday Agreement was to put things in the past’'.

“These two brothers have not been arrested, charged or investigated over dissident republican activity. Their convictions date back over 30 years ago. “

Recently Murphy attended the anniversary Mass for his mother and the applicant was not in a position to speak to his brothers on that occasion.

“We say this is a completely disproportionate way of dealing with his Article 8 rights. His brothers are not people who are under suspicion or investigation as far as I am aware.

“All we are asking is for him to be allowed to properly engage with his family. It is only in relation to his two brothers.’’

Mr Justice O’Hara said he was inclined to allow the bail variation provided the phone numbers were provided to the police.

“The applicant must also provide his device to police on request to allow them access the phone so they can see the extent of the contact between him and the two brothers. On that condition I am content to vary the bail condition,” he said.