Six appear in court charged with terror offences linked to new IRA

Video report by ITV News Correspondent Sharon O'Neil

Six people have appeared before a court facing charges of directing terrorism linked to the New IRA.

They were arrested as part of a major investigation that involved 500 officers from the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI), with assistance from MI5.

The Four men and two women appeared before Belfast Magistrates’ Court on Monday.

They have been accused of being members of a proscribed organisation – the IRA – directing a terrorist organisation, and preparation of terrorist acts, attending meetings in Omagh and Sixmiletown.

The co-accused are Sharon Jordan, 45; Kevin Barry Murphy, 49; Damien McLaughlin, 44; Amanda McCabe, 49; Gary Hayden, 48; and Joseph Barr, 32.

They appeared at court in pairs via videolink from Musgrave Street police station to allow for social distancing.

Credit: PA

A PSNI chief inspector said he believed he could connect the accused to the charges.

One of the defence lawyers raised a claim around the "role of an agent provocateur" who attended meetings in Omagh and Sixmiletown.

He added: "There’s a lot more to this case than simply the surveillance that was recorded at both properties and the transcripts."

Another defence lawyer put to the court: "Did an MI5 agent organise and finance these meetings?

"I’m asking a legitimate question at the first available opportunity."

District Judge Fiona Bagnall said the hearing was simply to deal with connection and "can only look at it in those terms at this point in time."

None responded when the charges were put to them and all six were remanded in custody.

In total, 10 people have been arrested as part of Operation Arbacia, a major PSNI investigation into the New IRA.