Court clash over the arrest of alleged terrorist

DEFENCE barrister Joe Brolly and a detective have clashed over the arrest of an alleged CIRA member whose bail conditions were temporarily relaxed due to accommodation issues.
Gabriel Paul Meehan (42) from Pound Street, Irvinestown is charged with having a shotgun, ammunition, two mobile phones, and details of a British Army captain’s vehicle.
The allegations relate to shots fired at Enniskillen PSNI Station on 17 March 2021.
The CIRA claimed responsibility stating, “On direction of the army council, volunteers fired high velocity rounds from an improvised explosive device.”
Examination of Meehan’s phone revealed communication with two other suspects.
While released by District Judge Steven Keown at Enniskillen Magistrates Court to reside at an approved address, this affected the householder’s benefit entitlement and he had to leave.
His support worker found temporary accommodation and an urgent bail variation mounted on 8 March heard there may be several short-term placements until a permanent address is found.
The judge agreed and additionally suspended electronic tagging, however the placement was ultimately lost.
Alternative hostel accommodation was found but Meehan was arrested shortly after his arrival, appearing by video-link before Dungannon Magistrates Court.
Mr Brolly claimed the detective, “Didn’t want my client staying at doss houses because she didn’t know if other residents had criminal records. I’m making a complaint to the PSNI and Ombudsman over those remarks which were outrageous for any public servant. Police caused considerable distress by their behaviour. Staff and residents were upset, as was my client who fully cooperated with police. The staff know of the doss house remarks and point out human dignity is first and foremost.”
He continued, “Police – no doubt directed by the detective – took my client from his bed. It’s inhumane and shouldn’t happen in our society. It’s typical of the flow towards authoritarian behaviour where certain sections of police believe they can behave however they like.”
The detective advised the accommodation provider doesn’t normally accept people on bail, but permitted Meehan to stay overnight, on condition he moved the next day adding,“Police never approved of this and weren’t informed he would be staying there. We cannot carry out checks.”
District Judge Michael Ranghan enquired if the previous court knew of the hostel accommodation, to which the detective said no, but Mr Brolly insisted, “That’s completely untrue.”
The pair clashed leading Judge Ranghan to intervene.
The detective claimed Meehan’s support worker advised it’s, “Highly unlikely he’ll get Housing Executive accommodation due the list of people ahead of him. At the moment he has no address. This is emergency housing every evening. Only four hostels accept people on bail and they are presently full.”
“You mean doss houses?” Mr Brolly shot back. “Short-term, temporary accommodation was approved.”
The detective replied, “Temporary housing yes, but these are hostels. Accommodation must be approved by police. We don’t know who’s in these hostels or who the defendant is associating with.”
She confirmed police opposed suspension of the electronic tag, “but didn’t have a chance” to voice this and objections will continue until Meehan has a permanent address or risk can be managed.
Judge Ranaghan was unhappy with the handling of the matter declaring, “Something is amiss.”
He declined to revoke bail and ordering Meehan’s release, warned the detective, “I don’t want police to go out and arrest this man unless there is a proper reason. If you disagree with my decision, that’s not how to go about it.”
He adjourned the case back to Judge Keown who today (Friday) allowed bail to continue adding flexibility is necessary given the accommodation issues.

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