DISSIDENT LEADER FOUND GUILTY
The Special Criminal Court has found Michael McKevitt guilty of
directing terrorism and being a member of an illegal organisation. The
Dundalk-based dissident is the alleged leader of the self-styled 'Real
The court's judgement came this [Wednesday] morning. The trial ended
more quickly than expected after McKevitt dismissed his legal team and
denounced the hearing as a political show trial.
He refused to attend the court this morning to hear the judgment from
the three-judge, non-jury court despite being directed to do so by the
court. McKevitt now faces a life sentence in prison.
McKevitt earlier sent a note to the court from his holding cell, but it
was not read out.
He is the first person convicted of the offence of directing terrorism.
The offence was one of a number of measures introduced by the Dublin
government following the Omagh bombing in 1998.
During the 26-day trial, the court heard evidence from David Rupert, an
American who worked for the FBI and the British Security Service. Mr
Rupert, a former trucking company boss and bar owner, said he
infiltrated dissident republican groups for the FBI and the British
The defence had sought to question Rupert's credibility, chiefly on the
grounds that his considerable remuneration would have been jeopardised
if he had not testified to McKevitt's guilt. McKevitt denied meeting
Rupert had told the court about 'Real IRA' meetings he attended with
him and plans that McKevitt had to launch a new wave of attacks against
commerical and military targets in the North of Ireland and in Britain.
It was claimed that McKevitt planned to secure arms and supplies from
However, when a Garda surveillance document was disclosed to the court,
McKevitt's defence claimed it contradicted evidence Mr Rupert had given
under oath, and applied to have the trial stopped.
When this was refused, McKevitt refused to participate any further. He
called it a political showtrial and stopped attending court.
The remaining witnesses, including the Garda Chief Superintendent who
testified that he knew the 53-year-old to be a member of an illegal
organisation, gave their evidence to the court unchallenged.
Presiding judge Richard Johnson said today [Wednesday] that Rupert's
evidence had been corroborated by other witnesses and by the discovery
of a guide book to Yugoslavia.
He said McKevitt's instructions to Rupert as beuing being the
organisation's US representative and acquiring equipment for him
constituted 'directing terrorism' under the new legislation.
He said that the court was "satisfied beyond all reasonable doubt
Mr Rupert was a truthful witness."
"The court was satisfied beyond all reasonable doubt that the evidence
given by Mr David Rupert constituted that Mr McKevitt was directing
terrorism and the evidence was open to no other interpretation,"
ADAMS TO WORK ON
Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams has pledged that a death threat from
dissident republicans will not deter him from his work in the peace
The West Belfast MP was not at home when members of the PSNI called on
Friday 1 August, but the information was passed on to his wife.
Adams said that he had to take the threat seriously but that he would
not be intimidated from representing those who elected him or the wider
group of people who support the peace process.
"Some of these groups are so heavily infiltrated that it is hard
know who is pulling whose strings or indeed if there is a real threat.
The reality of it all is let's keep the focus on the big picture, which
is to move this struggle forward, to move the peace process forward and
not be deflected by anything".
Meanwhile Sinn Fein spokesperson on Justice matters Conor Murphy has
said the minimalist nature of the information given to Gerry Adams by
the PSNI about the threat on his life is a high profile example of an
unacceptable situation that frequently arises.
"The PSNI call at the doors of republicans and nationalists and inform
them their lives are in danger but they refuse to give any further
details of the nature of the threat or the danger they believe you are
Murphy added that this policy is wrong and the principle when dealing
with such threats should be maximum information and not minimum which
"Giving out the minimum information actually adds to the anxiety
worry for individuals under threat".
Both so called dissident republican groups have denied targeting Adams
saying they are of the view that British dirty tricks were involved.
Dissident republicans were also today blamed for the attempted
abduction of a prominent loyalist politician in West Belfast.
Progressive Unionist city councillor Mr Billy Hutchinson was jogging in
the Shankill area of the city at abut 6.15 a.m. when four men in a
white Vauxhall Cavalier tried to bundle him into the car.
Mr Hutchinson, a former Assembly member for North Belfast, said he
managed to flee when a security guard intervened.
Progressive Unionist Party leader Mr David Ervine said they believed
republicans from Ardoyne were behind the attempted kidnapping.
But republicans in North Belfast have expressed strong scepticism about
the s claims, suggesting few would want to jeopardise a quiet summer in
the middle of the local Ardyone festival.
Sinn Fein councillor Ms Margaret McClenaghan was also sceptical about
the abduction claim.
"The finger is being pointed at people in Ardoyne but what strikes
is that the area where this incident is reported to have taken place is
close to the lower Shankill," she said.
"It was also not that long ago since another prominent loyalist claimed
he was targeted in a gun attack by people from Ardoyne and it turned
out to be bogus," she said.
"If this incident occurred, whoever was responsible should be condemned
but people in Ardoyne feel very much in danger after these reports.
People are on edge."