Dungiven man Dermot Burke remanded into custody accused over new IRA threats

A Dungiven man has been remanded into custody. Credit: UTV

A Dungiven man has been remanded into custody accused of making threats under the name of the new IRA.

Appearing at Antrim Magistrates' Court on Tuesday, sitting in Ballymena, by videolink from police custody, 58-year-old Dermot Burke spoke only to confirm that he understood the three charges against him, all alleged to have been committed on 19 January this year.

Burke, from the Drum Road in the Co Londonderry town, is accused of belonging or professing to belong to a proscribed organisation, namely the IRA, possessing a handgun with intent to cause a person to fear unlawful violence would be used against them and with possessing a weapon, namely an iron bar, on Main Street in Dungiven.

Giving evidence to the court, Det. Insp. Wilson said he believed he could connect Burke to each of the charges but defence solicitor Ruairi Muldoon said he had objections to a connection being made to the membership charge.

“During interviews it was put to him that he entered a number of premises in the Dungiven area professed to belong to the IRA or the New IRA but there was no evidence put to him that I saw that would connect him,” said the solicitor, asking the senior detective “what is the evidence?”

Commenting that the court may be aware of the case as “there’s been considerable media reporting about this incident,” DI Wilson told District Judge Nigel Broderick the police have a recording of a 999 call as well as footage recorded on officers’ body worn cameras where witnesses “say that these individuals made references to being members of the New IRA.”

The charges arise following reports that three masked men entered a number of bars in Dungiven where, allegedly armed with firearms, they issued threats against drug dealers.

Posting on social media on Sunday, St Canice's GAC Dungiven said the club "stands united against any form of drug taking or criminality in our community".

In court on Tuesday, DI Wilson conceded “this is a challenging environment to work in and we will have difficulties [taking formal statements], there’s no doubt about that, but the evidence is recorded.”

“We do not have signed statements but we do have evidence to put forward that they all made reference to being from the New IRA,” said the senior officer.

Mr Muldoon said neither the 999 call nor the body worn footage was played to Burke during police interviews but DI Wilson assured the court “we do have these recordings made to the police by the public and we have spoken to people who were present who have told the price that these individuals said we are from the New IRA.”

DJ Broderick said the test for whether Burke could be connected to the charges at this stage is whether there is sufficient evidence and on the face of it, given the evidence of DI Wilson, “I am satisfied there is sufficient evidence to connect him.”

Mr Muldoon confirmed that Burke was not applying for bail at this stage because “given what I foresee as the police main concerns of witness interference…he has taken a pragmatic approach and he is not applying for bail to allow the police to follow up their enquiries.”

Remanding Burke into custody, DJ Broderick adjourned the case to 5 February in Limavady Magistrates Court for a potential bail application.

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