The Supreme Court has cleared the way for the trial of Brendan McFarlane on charges of kidnapping supermarket chief Don Tidey in 1983.

The kidnapping of Don Tidey led to a nationwide search and culminated in a shoot-out at Derrada Wood in Ballinamore, Co Leitrim, in December 1983. A trainee garda and a member of the defence forces were killed in a shoot-out.

Brendan McFarlane was the leader of the Provisional IRA prisoners at the Maze prison and led the mass break out by 38 prisoners from the jail in September 1983. 

He was later arrested in Amsterdam, extradited to Northern Ireland and released on parole from the Maze in 1997.

McFarlane was arrested by gardaí in 1998 and charged with the false imprisonment of Don Tidey and with possession of a firearm with intent to endanger life at Derrada Wood, Ballinamore, Co Leitrim in November and December 1983.

He then brought successful High Court proceedings to prevent his trial going ahead. 

The High Court prohibited his trial at the Special Criminal Court because certain exhibits had gone missing and were not available for inspection by Mr McFarlane or his lawyers.

The Director of Public Prosecutions appealed this finding and today the Supreme Court ruled that the trial could go ahead by a four to one majority.

Mr Justice Hardiamn said that there was a forensic examination of the missing items, a milk carton, a plastic container and cooking pot which are alleged to contain fingerprints, and these results have been preserved. 

He said there is no suggestion that a meaningful comparison is not possible using the available photographs.

Mr Justice Hardiman added that the fact that Brendan McFarlane has been unsuccessful in his judicial review proceedings in no way detracts from the power and duty of the trial court to assess the case as it develops at the trial.