Northern Ireland news

Dissident republican trial shown MI5 secret video

Alex McCrory and Colin Duffy outside Laganside Court after an earlier hearing. Picture Mal McCann.

The trial of three men allegedly secretly filmed by MI5 agents has been shown two short clips taken in the grounds of a Co Armagh park on Dec 6, 2013, the day after a murder-bid on police in north Belfast.

The prosecution claim that the recording is of Colin Francis Duffy (51), Henry Fitzsimons (50) and 57-year-old Alex McCrory, whose addresses can not be reported for legal reasons.

The three deny preparing and directing terrorism, and membership or professing to be members of the IRA. Fitzsimons and McCrory also deny attempting to murder police in Ardoyne and possession of two AK47 assault rifles and ammunition used in the attack.

The defence in the Belfast Crown Court trial, who claim the recordings are of "very poor quality" have already told trial judge Mr Justice O'Hara that they intend to challenge the admissibility of the video content. They suggested that it was impossible to make any identification in two of the cases.

The two short pieces of video, lasting approx 20 seconds in each case, were allegedly taken from a video camera positioned in the laneway at the entrance of Demense House, Lurgan, looking in the direction of main road.

The black and white footage initially shows a parked car in the background of what appears to be the entrance of a tree-lined avenue, with passing traffic. From the left hand side of the screen three men, one a little stout, the others of average size and build appear.

The walk towards the hidden camera, one apparently with a slight limp. Eventually they exit screen left. One hour later, according to the prosecution, the same three men are captured on tape again.

This time, their backs to the viewfinder, three men, similarly dressed, are filmed walking back down the laneway until they reach the entrance, then turning left.

MI5 operatives who deployed the surveillance camera have refused to say anything, "on the grounds of national security", about their workings, or even when they were put in place, save that it occurred "on or before December 6, 2013"

The team leader of the group of agents responsible for setting up the covert device has disputed defence claims about the quality of the black and white footage, claiming it was "pretty clear".

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