Secret agent gives Omagh bomb evidence

25 May 2010 
UTV News

An alleged dissident republican told an undercover secret service agent that "his organisation was responsible" for building the Omagh bomb.

Giving evidence at Belfast Crown Court from behind screens, the agent - known only as 'Ali' - claimed that during a conversation about weaponry, Paul Anthony John McCaugherty, who is 43, told him he was from the Real IRA.

He also told him that he had the full support of its leaders to buy weaponry.

Ali added: "On mentioning the Real IRA I remembered two incidents, one is the Omagh bomb."

He said that his organisation built the bomb but the other one was responsible for not only activating it but for placing it where it was placed.

It was also claimed that the other organisation, which he didn't mention, was responsible for the big number of victims because they did not inform the police in time to evacuate the area.

The County Armagh trio of McCaugherty, from Beech Court, Desmond Paul Kearns, 44, from Tannaghmore Green, both Lurgan, and 41-year-old Dermot Declan Gregory aka Michael Dermot Gregory from Concession Road in Crossmaglen, deny a total of eight charges.

The prosecution case is that during a two year security services operation between August 2004 and June 2006, Kearns, going by the name of 'John' acted as a go-between.

McCaugherty, calling himself 'Tim', handled the money and negotiated the deals, and that Gregory handled a Portugeuse restaurant being used to raise funds for a terrorist group.

Ali told prosecuting QC Gordon Kerr that he and McCaugherty discussed the purchase guns, explosives and grenade launchers at a meeting in Instanbul, Turkey on January 31, 2006.

He claimed McCaugherty wanted to buy 100 kilo's of plastic explosives, 20 AK47 assault rifles, 10 sniper rifles, 20 handguns and 20 rocket propelled grenade launchers and that they agreed a price of 104,000 Euros.

The agent said McCaugherty agreed to hand over a 20% deposit "before anything moves anywhere," pay a further 50% when the shipment left Bulgaria and to pay "the remainder on arrival" in either France or Holland.

Mr Kerr asked if they talked about the "organisation policy" and Ali said yes, they had, claiming McCaugherty had told him that "the most important people in the organisation met back home to discuss and to make decisions on my dealings with him...and that they have expressed their full support for what he was doing in relation to me".

Ali alleged that McCaugherty told him the purpose of the hand grenades was to "toss them inside British Army landrovers" because in the summer time when it's hot, they leave the rear doors open "so it's very easy to toss grenades".

"At some point I asked who they would use these against," said the agent, "He said against British Army and police but also against those who work for the authorities."

During the secretly video-recorded meeting, McCaugherty can be heard talking about the peace process and the political situation in Northern Ireland, labelling Gerry Adams as "a traitor to what we hold dear".

Dressed in a blue check shirt, McCaugherty gives Ali a quick history lesson about how the six counties of Northern Ireland came to be and tells him: "It's those six counties that we want free from British rule."

The trial continues.

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