Irish Republican News · October 12, 2004
[Irish Republican News]

[Irish Republican News]
Charges dropped in bogus IRA case

Charges of gathering information “likely to be of use to terrorists” have been dropped against a West Belfast man in the latest such case to collapse or be downgraded.

Bill Tierney, a respected businessman, was accused of possessing documents linked to the IRA. He said he was ‘relieved, but angry’ after the case dramatically collapsed.

A number of “IRA spy” cases have been working their way through the legal system in the past two years. Three men charged two years ago over ‘Bogusgate’, the raid on Sinn Féin offices at the Stormont Assembly, come before the courts this week.

Mr Tierney’s lawyer Oliver Kelly revealed the 16-month-old charge was withdrawn because of insufficient evidence.

“The arrest and charging of Bill Tierney was a calculated injustice,” he said.

Mr Tierney -- a former republican prisoner who, since his release more than 20 years ago, has worked in the IT sector -- was remanded in custody on June 7 2003.

At a bail hearing, the court heard that details about alarm systems and what were described as “IRA code words” were found at his business premises.

He was remanded in custody and his business was forced to close. One of the Diplock judges in the non-jury court, at an earlier bail hearing, branded Mr Tierney a “highly dangerous man”, a remark widely reported in the press.

Mr Tierney said the charges followed a failed attempt by the PSNI Special Branch to recruit him as an informer.

Last night he said: “I am relieved it (the charge) was dropped. Why did they charge me in the first place?

“My business is gone. It has been very difficult, for me, my wife and family.”

Sinn Féin Assembly member Michael Ferguson said that the case once again highlighted the “nasty anti-republican cadre” which dominates the heart of the PSNI.

Mr Ferguson said: Mr Tierney and his family had been put through “sixteen months of hell”.

“It will be interesting to hear what the SDLP and others who defend the PSNI Special Branch day and daily have to say about this case.

“This case and others like it demonstrate in a real and tangible way the distance which still must be travelled before we reach the stage were we have an acceptable policing service and an impartial criminal justice system.”

Meanwhile, similar concerns are growing over the so-called ‘Bogusgate’ case, which led to the downfall of the Stormont Assembly in 2002 in highly charged political circumstances.

The British Crown is attempting to prevent the disclosures of documents linked to charges against three Belfast men, including Sinn Féin administrator Denis Donaldson, of possessing documents originating from the Northern Ireland Office. Charges against a fourth person were dropped last December.

Evidence relating to the covert surveillance operation on the Sinn Féin office at Stormont is being sought by the men’s lawyers this Thursday.

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© 2004 Irish Republican News