Northern Ireland news

Ruling postponed on bail for Co Armagh grandmother on dissident charges

Amanda McCabe, also known as Mandy Duffy

A SENIOR judge has postponed ruling on whether or not to release a Co Armagh grandmother facing dissident charges on bail.

A bid to release Amanda McCabe was made at Belfast's High Court and was heard by Lord Justice Treacy who said he would give a ruling on the application "early next week".

From Ailsbury Gardens in Lurgan, McCabe appeared at the hearing via a videolink with Hydebank Wood.

The 51-year old accused is currently on remand after being charged with offences arising from a covert M15/PSNI bugging operation in August 2020 involving alleged dissident republicans.

McCabe - also known as Mandy Duffy - was one of 10 people arrested and charged with offences including IRA membership and directing terrorist activity. The mother-of-five and grandmother-of-six has been on remand for two years, with her defence barrister telling Lord Justice Treacy the bid was being launched due to several changes of circumstance.

Saying McCabe has a completely clear criminal record and was denying the charges, Mark Mulholland QC said it was her case that she didn't attend the two meetings at the centre of the bugging operation - put simply, "it wasn't her and she wasn't there".

Mr Mulholland cited several changes in circumstances, including the fact that three of McCabe's nine co-accused - including one with previous convictions for terrorism - have been granted bail.

Also highlighted by the defence was McCabe's need to fulfill her "material obligations" including offering emotional and practical support to one of her daughters and two grandchildren who the defence say have genuine medical issues.

Mr Mulholland told Lord Justice Treacy that two woman of good reputation in the Lurgan area had written character references for McCabe and were prepared to "take on a supervisory role" should she be released.

This prompted the judge to ask "how do you supervise someone who is alleged to be a director of a terrorist organisation? They meet in secret, they do what they do in secret, so how do you supervise someone alleged to be involved in that?"

Pointing out McCabe denies the charges, Mr Mulholland said that if released, stringent conditions including a curfew could be imposed. He said McCabe's primary concern would be her family, adding her relatives had raised around £25,000 to act as a cash surety - and any breach would lead to her loved ones losing their "every penny" of their savings.

A Crown barrister told Lord Justice Treacy that bail was being opposed due to risks of re-offending, concerns of flight and interfering with justice.

He added "if the risk comes to pass, it's a very grave risk."

Lord Justice Treacy said he wanted to take time to consider the matter - including medical reports on McCabe's daughter and grandchildren - and said: "I will give a ruling on this bail application early next week."

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