Man with suspected Continuity IRA links granted bail after third breach despite police objections

The security alert happened on St Patrick's Day in 2021. Credit: UTV

A forty-three-year-old man facing terrorism charges and with suspected Continuity IRA links, has appeared before a special sitting of Dungannon Magistrates Court after again breaching his bail terms. Gabriel Paul Meehan from Pound Street, Irvinestown but bailed to James Street, Omagh 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 initially released from custody at Enniskillen Magistrates Court to an approved address in March, this affected the householder’s benefit entitlement and he had to leave. Bail was re-granted to an alternative address but when police conducted a check the following month Meehan was absent during his curfew. While he did present himself when officers returned, he was heavily intoxicated and with three others in a similar condition. On that instance Meehan also appeared before a special sitting court where District Judge Barney McElhome declined to revoke bail but added another condition banning alcohol. He stressed: “This as a final warning and I want that noted by all concerned.” However he reverted from that position while presiding over the latest special court appearance, where a detective sergeant advised police located Meehan in an Omagh pub on July 22. Although he claimed not to have been drinking, a breath test indicated he had consumed a small amount of alcohol. The detective pointed out this is Meehan’s third breach of bail and: “It’s becoming clear that he has no regard for the authority of the court or conditions imposed upon him. He’s had several bail variations but continues to flout. After the last breach he was told it was the last chance. An additional condition of an alcohol ban was added, yet that is what he breached. The defendant has clearly demonstrated he will not abide by conditions imposed by the court.” A defence solicitor advised Meehan has been on bail since December 2021 and, “Has significant mental health issues. He is excluded from Enniskillen and is isolated. He accepts he took alcohol which could be due to his isolation, but it was a very small amount. The main purposes of his bail conditions were to prevent absconding and committing further offences. There’s no suggestion he has offended or engaged with any paramilitary or political organisation. I don’t think revoking bail is in his best interests in these circumstances.” The defence added, “My client understands this would be his final chance and I’ve told him we can’t keep coming back to court. Taking a pint was a stupid thing to do and he accepts that. Judge McElhome expressed concerns on Meehan’s “Limited social interaction which is not good for his mental health.” The detective told the court mental health was previously brought to the attention of the High Court during an unsuccessful bail application last year but, “It did not change the determination to remand in custody. It was a further four months before the defendant was released, on the basis there had been a delay in the case.” Following consideration Judge McElhome remarked, “Revoking bail would be an over-reaction. I’ll take no action on this occasion.” He listed the case for mention at Enniskillen Magistrates Court on 12 September.

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