Northern Ireland news

Man charged with CIRA offences denied bail

Gabriel Paul Meehan was denied bail

A MAN who police believe is a member of the Continuity IRA (CIRA) has been charged with terrorism offences.

Gabriel Paul Meehan (42) of Pound Street, Irvinestown, Co Fermanagh, appeared in court yesterday charged with having a shotgun, ammunition, two mobile phones and details of a vehicle belonging to a member of the security forces.

It follows the recovery of a firearm believed to be connected to shots fired at Enniskillen PSNI Station.

A detective chief inspector said the charges, which allegedly occurred between March and May, could be connected to the defendant.

Strabane Magistrates' Court heard that on March 13 police learned a man claiming to be from the CIRA had contacted the BBC stating a device had been left on the Newtownbutler to Clones road on the Fermanagh border, adding: "This is not a hoax".

Two days later the Impartial Reporter was contacted by a man claiming to be from North Fermanagh CIRA, who stated shots had been fired at Enniskillen Police Station and a device left adding: “Clear the area”.

On March 16 The Irish News also received a call from North Fermanagh CIRA stating the location of a bomb and “The PSNI are wrong.”

Acting on this, police discovered two pieces of piping and a partly corroded shotgun cartridge.

An improvised shotgun was then located containing a recently fired 12 gauge cartridge.

On March 19 the Impartial Reporter received a further call stating: “On 14 March, the North Fermanagh CIRA on direction of the army council carried out an attack on Enniskillen Police Station.

"Volunteers fired high velocity rounds from an improvised explosive device. The hoax device placed in Newtownbutler was a military diversion so volunteers could attack crown forces in Enniskillen. We are not here to harm civilians and the PSNI knew of the device for two days. The only people going to get hurt are crown forces in Enniskillen.”

Meehan’s house was searched on March 30 during which several items were seized.

Examination of the phone revealed calls and messages between Meehan and two other suspects, one of whom he was attempting to meet.

A second search on May 6 located another phone containing images of all sides of Enniskillen Police Station, along with the route to it and where the device was located.

Opposing bail, a detective said when Meehan’s home was searched on May 6, officers discovered a packed bag with his passport on top. Evidence on his phone included offers of financial support and accommodation.

The defence stressed Meehan assures he has left Republican Sinn Féin and wants to concentrate on his young children.

But the prosecution said: “Police believe he is a high-ranking member of the CIRA.

"He certainly associates with its members and is willing to carry out activity on their behalf."

Deputy district judge Sean O'Hare refused bail saying that offending was allegedly ongoing even while the investigation was under way.

Mr Meehan was remanded in custody and is due to appear by video-link at Enniskillen Magistrates Court next month.

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