Northern Ireland news

Bail for alleged dissident republican refused

Dr Issam Bassalat is among 10 people charged in connection with an MI5 operation

A lawyer acting for one of 10 people facing dissident terrorism-related charges has rubbished a co-defendant's disavowal of violence during a renewed bail application before Dungannon Magistrates Court.

All accused were arrested under a joint investigation between the PSNI and MI5, Codenamed Operation Abracia, and face similar allegations of IRA membership and directing terrorist activity between 2018 and 2020.

They are David Jordan, Sharon Jordan, and Damien Joseph McLaughlin from Dungannon; Kevin Murphy from Coalisland, Issam Bassalat from Edinburgh, Amanda McCabe and Shea Reynolds from Lurgan and Patrick McDaid, Joseph Barr and Gary Hayden from Derry.

Covert recordings captured discussions around the IRA executive, recruitment, weaponry, an economic bombing campaign, close-quarter shootings of police officers and cyber-attacks.

Bassalat, McDaid and Barr have since been freed on bail and lawyers for fifty-year-old Hayden from Tyrconnell Street in Derry City, mounted a similar application, stating, “There is no legal or viable distinction to be drawn between them and my client.”

He said during an unsuccessful High Court application for Hayden earlier this year, the judge referred to the commitment of former Sinn Féin MLA Raymond McCartney and his £50,000 cash surety for McDaid, which were “significant, distinguishing factors”.

The defence said, “I don't disagree with that assessment, but I take some issue with it. While Mr McCartney did provide the cash to ensure Mr McDaid's bail compliance, we say he did not provide any supervisory role … I understand Mr McCartney is currently outside the jurisdiction and Mr McDaid is in it, so one wonders what exactly the supervisory role is.”

In respect of Barr, “We say the distinction is even less,” said the defence.

“The Prosecution are drawing on Mr Barr's disavowal of violence yet view such comments as self-serving and bearing little weight. They say he has expressly disavowed violence and stepped back from republicanism, but we don't accept that."

The court heard Hayden's family were unable to gather cash sums equivalent to that for McDaid but had managed to raise £15,000 and the defence added, "My client would comply fully with all bail terms, no matter how onerous or regimented. The amount of cash has the same significance to my client's family as that put forward by Mr McCartney for Mr McDaid.”

Deputy District Judge Sean O'Hare noted the High Court appeared to have attached some importance to the disavowal and put it to the defence, “If I was to ask your client to say the same words, would that be a problem? It's a very straightforward question and I don't want to waste my time or his”

The defence replied, “My client's position is that any bail condition placed upon him, including limiting his ability to meet other individuals, would be fully complied with.”

Judge O'Hare continued: “Can he say, ‘I don't believe in violence. I believe in a new shared island. I am not opposed to peace. I do not advocate violence and I do not say violence is the way forward'. There's no point dealing with anything else if something which two High Court judges have decided is vital. Is there a difficulty with your client saying those words? The answer is either yes or no.”

The defence concluded, “I have made my submissions.”

Turning to Hayden who appeared by video-link, Judge O'Hare asked, “Do you want to say those words?”

Hayden replied, “I've already instructed my solicitor and he's explained the situation.”

Throwing out the application Judge O'Hare remarked, “There's no point looking at other issues when that fundamental element hasn't been addressed.”

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