Four accused of IRA membership named

Published Thursday, 11 October 2012
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Two men and two women accused of Provisional IRA membership more than a decade ago can be named after reporting restrictions have been lifted at Belfast Magistrates' Court.

Four accused of IRA membership named
Reporting restrictions on the four accused were lifted on Thursday. (© UTV)

A judge ruled on Thursday that the defendants, all from Belfast, could be named as long as the media abide by relevant legal precautions.

Facing criminal proceedings are James Gerard Seamus Finucane, 55, from Hawthorn Hill, Hannahstown and Padraic Conner Wilson, 53, with an address at the Sinn Fein Advice Centre on the Falls Road.

Also accused are Agnes McCrory, 72, from Dermott Hill Road and Briege Wright, 55, from Glassmullin Gardens.

It is alleged that all four belonged to the Provisional IRA, on dates between 1999 and 2000.

They are also accused of arranging, addressing or assisting in the management of a PIRA meeting.

A fifth defendant, another man alleged to have been a member of the organisation, is not being named for separate legal reasons.

None of the five attended Belfast Magistrates' Court for the ruling.

The case against them has been brought by way of a prosecution summons.

According to legal sources they have not yet been formally charged.

The ban on naming them was imposed in August to protect the identity of an alleged victim in the case.

However, she did not want the reporting restrictions and instructed lawyers to challenge the order at a hearing where media representatives also argued for open justice.

Based on these submissions, District Judge Fiona Bagnall decided to reverse the prohibition.

She confirmed: "I am lifting the reporting restrictions on the matters before the Magistrates' Court."

Following her ruling a solicitor for Mr Finucane, Mr Wilson, Ms McCrory and Ms Wright claimed the case should be reviewed.

Peter Madden told the court he has written to the Public Prosecution Service seeking answers to his concerns.

He said: "There are unusual aspects of this case and there are policy aspects to this case which I have asked the prosecutor to review."

"It may have to go to the Director (of Public Prosecutions)."

Mr Madden added: "There is a large issue about how this prosecution was actually initiated, who initiated it and why they initiated it."

The case was listed for a further mention on November 8.

Outside the court a lawyer for the alleged victim said the decision reflected the principal of justice being seen to be done.

Michael Sinclair, of John J Rice & Co Solicitors, said: "The alleged injured party in this case sought independent legal advice to challenge these restrictions and the ruling today justifies her position.

"It is important that alleged victims are given a voice in the criminal justice system and we felt it was important to assist in this matter."

© UTV News
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