RIRA accused have bail relaxed for family holiday

14 August 2007 
The Irish News

A Co Armagh couple accused of involvement in a Real IRA gun smuggling plot have had their bail conditions temporarily relaxed so they can take their two children on a family holiday to Donegal.

An application to relax the conditions during a week-long holiday to be taken later this month was made in Belfast's High Court yesterday on behalf of Desmond and Alison Kearns.

The couple, from Tannaghmore Green in Lurgan, are facing terrorism charges after alleged conversations between them and members of the British security forces posing as cigarette and arms dealers were recorded.

Previous hearings in the High Court have been told Mr Kearns (42) and his 38-year-old wife travelled to various destinations in Europe in the summer of 2004 to purchase cigarettes which the Crown believe were to be smuggled back into Northern Ireland.

During conversations with the agents posing as dealers, discussions were allegedly recorded concerning the purchase of weapons and explosives - including AK47's and rocket launchers - for the RIRA.

Mr Kearns is facing charges of conspiracy to possess weapons and explosives while Mrs Kearns has been charged with inviting an un-named person to provide weapons with the intent they would be used for terrorism.

Both have spent a period of time in custody but were released on High Court bail and ordered to obey a series of stringent conditions.

During yesterday's application, Crown lawyer Sheena Mehaffy said the PSNI was objecting to the Kearns family leaving the jurisdiction for a holiday in Donegal as there was "a fear of reoffending and re-involvement in the same kind of activity".

She added the PSNI "would have no control monitoring their movements" while they were in Donegal.

Mr Justice Gillen spoke of the "close working relations" between the PSNI and the Garda Siochana and said he would be "very surprised" if the two police forces could not work together to "ensure some monitoring of their movements."

Revealing he would relax the bail conditions to allow the couple to take their children on holiday, the judge ordered the couple "meet and obey all monitoring arrangements entered in to between the PSNI and the Garda Siochana".

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