Page last updated at 20:11 GMT, Monday, 10 May 2010 21:11 UK

MI5 Real IRA 'sting' meetings revealed

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An earlier court hearing was told the case involved an MI5 sting operation

A court has heard further recordings of conversations between an MI5 operative and a man, alleged to be one of the defendants in an arms smuggling case.

The operative, known only as "Amir", was hidden in Belfast Crown Court as he gave more evidence of his role.

On trial are Paul McCaughtery, 43, of Beech Court, and Desmond Paul Kearns, 44, Tannaghmore Green, both in Lurgan.

Along with Dermot Declan Gregory, 41, from Concession Road in Crossmaglen, they deny eight charges between them.

Real IRA

"Amir" was hidden from everyone in Belfast Crown Court, except for the judge and the various prosecution and defence lawyers.

The prosecution claims that during a two-year security services operation between August 2004 and June 2006, Mr Kearns, going by the name of "John" acted as a go-between and Mr McCaugherty, calling himself "Tim", handled the money and negotiated the deals.

It is also alleged that Mr Gregory handled a Portuguese restaurant being used to raise funds for a terrorist group.

A judge at an earlier hearing was told the sting involved an MI5 operation against the Real IRA.

On Monday, more secretly taped meetings between Amir and John, were played to the court after the operative outlined what he personally remembered of them.

In one meeting in Amsterdam in September 2005, Amir claimed he again met John in a cafe-restaurant and that initially he was alone when he met him.

He said that unlike other meetings, John was also alone, explaining that his wife Alison, whom he had met before, but was never to meet again, was feeling unwell.

Amir claimed that John "was a bit upset about the IRA decommissioning" and told him that people and groups were becoming disillusioned by it all.

Interested

Talking about an earlier meeting where he offered to set up a meeting between "his friends" and "John's friends", Amir asked if "John's friend" was still interested in such a meeting.

John allegedly replied "that his friend was interested" but complained that "not enough was being done about it".

Amir said he got the impression John felt he was "doing a lot more then he expected to be doing".

He added that he told John that his friend "Ali", who was to be the weapons' specialist, had returned to Amsterdam with him and was willing to meet up, however before then, he introduced Ali's driver, a man called "Denis" to him.

Amir said that Denis later drove him and John to John's hotel to drop off a consignment of cigarettes.

John, he said, later agreed to meeting Ali, and they drove to a bar not far from the cafe.

He said that he and John chatted for a while before Denis returned with Ali and that John and he then spoke privately together.

Amir claimed that after the meeting John told him "he was very happy" with the way things had gone, and that when he returned home he would "talk to his friends".

Detonators

Two months later in November 2005, the pair, Amir and John, met again, this time in a bar in Brussells.

Amir claimed that he questioned John about his meeting with Ali, as he wanted to "gauge some sort of reaction" , but that the response he got was very similar to the reaction he always got.

John, he said, appeared "frustrated" and complained that while people said they were interested, "things weren't going fast enough", and that people were not really trying.

He also complained he was told to "ask more questions", although he did mention "something about prices, that they were happy about the prices".

Amir claimed he also remembered John "getting out his cigarette lighter and shaking it", saying that they needed "these and detonators".



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