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Last Updated: Thursday, 26 June, 2003, 13:40 GMT 14:40 UK
Real IRA 'sought terror links'
Michael McKevitt , 53
Michael McKevitt denies all the charges
The Real IRA sought state terrorism links with Iraq and Sri Lankan separatist movement Tamil Tigers, the main prosecution witness has told the trial of the group's alleged leader.

Michael McKevitt, 53, is the first person to appear at Dublin's non-jury Special Criminal Court charged with directing terrorism.

The offence was one of a range of measures introduced by the Irish Government in the wake of the Omagh bombing in 1998.

The County Louth businessman is also charged with membership of an illegal organisation. He denies the charges.

The main prosecution witness, FBI and MI5 agent David Rupert, told the court on Thursday that Mr McKevitt told him it was unfortunate that his group did not have suicide bombers to attack a British military ship in Carlingford Lough.

Mr Rupert said he had initially been extremely reluctant to testify in the trial.

He said he changed his mind after seeing a programme where a woman and boy injured in the Omagh bombing told their stories.

Mr McKevitt is one of five people the relatives of the victims of the Omagh bombing are taking a separate civil action against in Northern Ireland.

The Real IRA attack on 15 August 1998 killed 29 people, including a woman who was seven months pregnant with twins.

The Real IRA was formed after a split within the mainstream IRA. The dissident group is opposed to the Northern Ireland peace process.

The trial continues.


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