Smuggling accused is given bail

29 June 2006
Belfast News Letter

A Co Armagh woman accused of being involved in a Real IRA gun smuggling plot was granted High Court bail yesterday.

Alison Kearns, a mother-of-two from Tannaghmore Green, Lurgan, appeared in court last week on a charge of inviting an unnamed person to provide weapons with the intent they be used for terrorism.

Crown lawyer Charles McKay told the court that in 2004, security staff from the UK mounted an operation using 'agents' to target members of the Real IRA connected to weapons and cigarette smuggling.

Mr McKay said that during this time, it was believed Kearns, 37, and her husband Desmond travelled to various locations throughout Europe to obtain cigarettes to be smuggled back into Northern Ireland.

During their travels, the couple made contact with an undercover 'agent' and met him several times during the summer of 2004 and again in May 2005 in Brussels.

The Crown alleges that during the May 24 meeting, Mrs Kearns began talking about politics and said to the agent "the Arab people and the Irish republican movement should work together'.

Weapons were then discussed and Mrs Kearns is alleged to have told the 'agent' "what we need is people like you to bring guns to Ireland'.

The couple met the 'agent' again in July last year and the prospect of smuggling guns into Ireland was discussed.

Appearing at the same bail hearing was co-accused Dermot Gregory from Crossmaglen.

But as the Crown was preparing to reveal further allegations, Mr Justice McLaughlin halted proceedings on the grounds evidence was extremely complex.

However, after hearing there was no Crown objection to releasing Kearns on bail, Mr Justice McLaughlin ordered she be released on the basis she agreed to obey a number of conditions.

Those included surrendering her passport, not leaving Northern Ireland, reporting to police daily and not contacting any Crown witnesses. She was released on her own bail of £5,000.

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