Family Members In Court On Terror Charges

David Blevins, Ireland correspondent
Family Members In Court On Terror Charges

Two brothers and a cousin have appeared in court in Northern Ireland charged with serious terrorist offences following an intelligence operation by the police and security service MI5.

It follows a major police investigation into dissident republican activity which was carried out in conjunction with MI5.

Paul Duffy, 47, Damien Duffy, 42 and 41-year-old Shane Duffy, all from Lurgan, County Armagh, have been charged with serious terrorist offences.

About 20 relatives, including prominent republican Colin Duffy, were at the court in Lisburn.

Paul Duffy has been charged with directing dissident republican terrorism, conspiracy to murder, collecting information likely to be of use to terrorists, planning acts of terrorism and conspiring to cause an explosion.

Damien Duffy and Shane Duffy face the same charges but not directing terrorism.

The trio, who were arrested in Lurgan last Monday morning, have been remanded in custody.

Around 20 family members and supporters shouted encouragement as the accused were led away.

The alleged offences happened at various times between 2009 and now.

During cross-examination, lawyers for the three men said the Duffys felt they were being "persecuted" by police.

Defence lawyer Joe McVeigh claimed the children of Paul Duffy and mother of Shane Duffy had been questioned on video during searches.

A detective sergeant told the court he believed he could connect the three men with the charges.

He was briefly cross-examined about the role of the security services but said he could not give specifics.

Meanwhile, at Omagh courthouse, three men and a woman appeared facing separate charges connected with dissident republicanism and an alleged terrorist training camp in County Tyrone.

Terence Aidan Coney and Gavin Coney, both from Omagh, Sean Kelly, from Toomebridge, and Sharon Rafferty, from Pomeroy, were all remanded in custody.

The four were charged with engaging in conduct in preparation for committing acts of terrorism, possession of a firearm and ammunition and attending a place used for terrorist training.

Ms Rafferty and Mr Kelly were also charged with directing the activities of a terrorist organisation while Mr Kelly faced a further charge of collecting information likely to be of use to terrorists.

In a statement, the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) , said: "The charges, some of which have been used seldom in the past in Northern Ireland, are the result of an investigation led by police into dissident republican terrorist activity.

"Officers have worked closely with colleagues in the security service and, latterly, with the Public Prosecution Service to reach a point where charges have been brought.

"The PSNI remains absolutely committed to using every mechanism available through the criminal justice system to reduce the threat posed by terrorist networks and to keep everyone in our community safe."