Charges dropped in bogus IRA case
Charges of gathering information "likely to be of use to
terrorists" have been dropped against a West Belfast man in the
latest such case to collapse or be downgraded.
Bill Tierney, a respected businessman, was accused of possessing
documents linked to the IRA. He said he was relieved, but
angry after the case dramatically collapsed.
A number of "IRA spy" cases have been working their way through
the legal system in the past two years. Three men charged two
years ago over Bogusgate, the raid on Sinn Fein offices at
Stormont Assembly, come before the courts this week.
Mr Tierneys lawyer Oliver Kelly revealed the 16-month-old
charge was withdrawn because of insufficient evidence.
The arrest and charging of Bill Tierney was a calculated
injustice, he said.
Mr Tierney -- a former republican prisoner who, since his
release more than 20 years ago, has worked in the IT sector --
was remanded in custody on June 7 2003.
At a bail hearing, the court heard that details about alarm
systems and what were described as "IRA code words" were found
at his business premises.
He was remanded in custody and his business was forced to close.
One of the Diplock judges in the non-jury court, at an earlier
bail hearing, branded Mr Tierney a "highly dangerous man", a
remark widely reported in the press.
Mr Tierney said the charges followed a failed attempt by the
PSNI Special Branch to recruit him as an informer.
Last night he said: I am relieved it (the charge) was dropped.
Why did they charge me in the first place?
My business is gone. It has been very difficult, for me, my
wife and family.
Sinn Féin Assembly member Michael Ferguson said that the case
once again highlighted the "nasty anti-republican cadre" which
dominates the heart of the PSNI.
Mr Ferguson said: Mr Tierney and his family had been put through
"sixteen months of hell".
"It will be interesting to hear what the SDLP and others who
defend the PSNI Special Branch day and daily have to say about
"This case and others like it demonstrate in a real and tangible
way the distance which still must be travelled before we reach
the stage were we have an acceptable policing service and an
impartial criminal justice system."
Meanwhile, similar concerns are growing over the so-called
Bogusgate case, which led to the downfall of the Stormont
Assembly in 2002 in highly charged political circumstances.
The British Crown is attempting to prevent the disclosures of
documents linked to charges against three Belfast men, including
Sinn Fein administrator Denis Donaldson, of possessing documents
originating from the Northern Ireland Office. Charges against a
fourth person were dropped last December.
Evidence relating to the covert surveillance operation on the
Sinn Fein office at Stormont is being sought by the men's
lawyers this Thursday.