A Real IRA leader who planned a bombing during the visit of the Prince of Wales to Ireland two years ago was last week jailed for eleven and a half years.
Seamus McGrane, 63, was also convicted of IRA membership between January 2010 and May 2015 and sentenced to six years in jail to run concurrently with the bombing conviction. He is only the second person to be convicted of directing terrorism in the state. Michael McKevitt, his former ally, was jailed for 20 years in 2003 for the same offence.
McGrane, 63, of Little Road, Dromiskin, Co Louth, was convicted in October in the jury-less Special Criminal Court of directing the activities of an unlawful organisation styling itself the Irish Republican Army, otherwise known as Oglaigh na hEireann, between April 19 and May 13, 2015. Oglaigh na hEireann is a splinter dissident group opposed to the Good Friday Agreement and the peace process.
McGrane had denied all charges. Ms Justice Isobel Kennedy, on behalf of the three judges of the Special Criminal Court, said that it was “a most serious offence”. McGrane has two previous convictions. The first was for IRA membership in 1976 for which he spent one year in custody.
In October 1999 McGrane was arrested in County Meath in a training camp discovered in an underground bunker, where a firing-range had been constructed and in 2001, was convicted of training others in the use of firearms for which he was jailed for four years.
In April and May 2015, gardaí secretly recorded McGrane discussing the plot with Donal O Coisdealbha in the snug of The Coachman’s Inn on the Airport Road, Dublin. McGrane told O Coisdealbha to contact a person he referred to as the “motorbike man” to collect ingredients for a bomb. He mentioned experimenting with explosives and discussed his involvement “swearing in” IRA recruits and training them.
The recording from May referred to a “military operation” of significance and “the main attack” on 19 May – the date of Prince Charles’ visit that year.
McGrane told O Coisdealbha that the operation should not be an “embarrassment” and that it was not to occur in Sligo or Galway but at the Cross of Sacrifice in Glasnevin cemetery, which commemorates British and Irish soldiers who died in The First World War.
O Coisdealbha, 25, a third-level graduate who worked for a bioscience company at NUI Maynooth, was jailed for five and a half years last December.