High-profile dissident republican Colin Duffy has been remanded in custody, accused of IRA membership and plotting to murder security force members.

The 46-year-old was among three men who appeared in court in connection with a gun attack on police vehicles in north Belfast earlier this month.

Alongside him in the dock were Alex McCrory, 52, of Sliabh Dubh View, Belfast and 45-year-old Henry Joseph Fitzsimons, of no fixed address.

Mr McCrory and Mr Fitzsimons are both charged with attempting to murder members of the PSNI travelling on the Crumlin Road on 5 December.

Along with Mr Duffy, of Forest Glade, Lurgan, they are also charged with conspiracy to possess firearms and explosives with intent to endanger life.

All three are jointly accused of conspiring to murder and belonging to a proscribed organisation - namely the Irish Republican Army.

Mr McCrory and Mr Fitzsimons face further charges of aiding and abetting the possession of a firearm.

The alleged offences cover a period between 1 January and 16 December this year.

Amid heavy security at Belfast Magistrates' Court, supporters of the three accused packed the public gallery.

At one stage, the defendants declined to stand up as some of the charges were put to them.

No applications for bail were made during the short hearing.

The accused waved at friends who clapped as they were remanded in custody to appear again by videolink in four weeks' time.

Meanwhile, two arrests were made outside the court complex as tension heightened briefly.