Dublin man was smuggling an IRA communiqué out of Portlaoise Prison - Special Criminal Court told

Man has pleads not guilty to membership Óglaigh na hÉireann aka Irish Republican Army

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Portlaoise Prison

A Dublin man was smuggling an IRA communiqué out of Portlaoise prison when he was arrested by gardai, the Special Criminal Court has heard.

Brian Kenna (54), of Crumlin Park, Crumlin, Dublin has pleaded not guilty to membership of an unlawful organisation within the State, namely Oglaigh na hEireann, otherwise the Irish Republican Army, otherwise the IRA on November 21st, 2015.

Detective Sergeant Padraig Boyce, of the Special Detective Unit, told prosecuting counsel Ronan Kennedy BL on Tuesday that as a result of a briefing he learned that Mr Kenna was to be in Portlaoise on the day of the alleged offence, "engaging in IRA activity".

The court heard that on the morning of November 21st, the detective and two of his colleagues went to Portlaoise, where they saw the accused man in the prison's carpark.

Det Sgt Boyce said that he approached Mr Kenna and informed him he would now search him under Section 30 of the Offences Against the State Act.

The court heard that the detective turned out Mr Kenna's jeans' pockets and a small piece of paper, wrapped in Cling-film, fell to the ground.

The detective said that he asked the accused man what it was and Mr Kenna denied any knowledge and laughed.

"I believed it was an IRA communiqué," Det Sgt Boyce said, "a form of communication commonly used by IRA members to pass information from one unit to another."

Det Sgt Boyce said that Mr Kenna told him he had been visiting two prisoners.

The court heard that they were Tony Carroll, convicted of possession of firearms, and Kevin Devlin, serving a sentence for possession of explosives.

Earlier, opening the prosecution case, Mr Kennedy said the court will hear that Mr Kenna is a representative of the Irish Republican Prisoners' Welfare Association (IRPWA).

The court will also hear evidence, he said, from garda Assistant Commissioner Michael O'Sullivan of his belief that Mr Kenna was an IRA member on the date in question.

The defence, led by Siobhan Stack SC, is challenging the legality of Mr Kenna's stop and search, as well as his arrest and detention, and the seizure of his car.

The trial continues in front of Mr Justice Tony Hunt, presiding, sitting with Judge John O'Hagan and Judge Flann Brennan.