world : Man bailed over firearms offences in RUC murder probe

world : Man bailed over firearms offences in RUC murder probe
world : Man bailed over firearms offences in RUC murder probe

Wednesday 12 June 2024 10:50 PM

Nafeza 2 world - A 73-year-old man has been granted bail after being arrested on suspicion of firearms offences linked to the murder of an RUC officer in 1975.

Seamus Christopher O'Kane, originally from Magherafelt, had been living in Skryne Road, Dunshaughlin, County Meath for years.

He was arrested at 07:16 on Wednesday morning.

Gardaí (Irish police) said the charges relate to weapons allegedly linked to the killing of Con Robert John McPherson and the attempted murder of his colleague in Dungiven in County Londonderry on 26 July 1975.

A prosecution lawyer told the High Court in Dublin that a warrant issued by Northern Ireland's authorities, had been endorsed by Justice McDermott on 13 May.

The detective told the court he arrested Mr O'Kane at his home in Meath after he asked Mr O'Kane to identity himself.

He confirmed he had been born in Garvagh, and was an Irish national and held an Irish passport.

He was conveyed to Navan Garda station and arrested and cautioned.

The court heard that the offences are linked to an incident on 16 February 1976, when a military observation team observed suspicious activity in a farmhouse in County Londonderry.

Officers arrived to the farmhouse and conducted a search, in which explosives, firearms and ammunition were found.

Two electric detonators, one browning pistol, a rifle, Remington shot gun, ammunition and explosives.

Mr O'Kane was found hiding in an upstairs bedroom.

In an interview he admitted possession and said the householder had no knowledge of firearms or explosives.

After his arrest, Mr O'Kane escaped from the Maze Prison in 1976.

A warrant for arrest was issued and extradition sought by the UK.

The Irish Supreme Court refused the extradition due to the supposed political nature of the offences.

He has lived in Ireland ever since.

Garda Keane said the weapons were linked to the murder of the RUC officer in Dungiven in 1975.

The defence lawyer said that the case was "a matter that is of some complexity" due to Britain's new legacy act, regarding crimes committed during the Troubles.

Due to the complexities, Mr Berry said it would be "far easier to prepare if he is given bail."

The state agreed, and proposed Mr O'Kane resides at home and signs on three times a week in Ashbourne Garda Station and provide a mobile number to be contactable.

Detectives from An Garda Síochána also arrested another man, aged 72, in Co Donegal early on Wednesday morning.

The 72-year-old has been arrested on suspicion of murder.

The arrests were made under a Trade and Co-operation Agreement (TaCA) Warrant as part of a joint operation with the Police Service of Northern Ireland.

Detectives from PSNI's Legacy Investigation Branch have also arrested a 71-year-old man in the Dungiven area as part of the same investigation.

A decision to prosecute the three individuals was issued by the Public Prosecution Service prior to the commencement of the Northern Ireland (Legacy and Reconciliation) Act 2023 on 1 May 2024.

A date has been fixed for hearing of the application for 19 June.

The extradition hearing will be held on 2 and 3 July.

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