A Dublin man has been found guilty of IRA membership by the non-jury Special Criminal Court.
Conor Metcalfe, 28 and with an address at Monastery Park, Clondalkin, Dublin 22 was found guilty of membership of an unlawful organisation, styling itself the Irish Republican Army, otherwise Oglaigh na hÉireann, otherwise the IRA, on 24 November 2015.
The three-judge Special Criminal Court entered a not guilty on Metcalfe's behalf, as he had made no reply when the membership charge was put to him at the start of his trial.
Closing the prosecution case, Anne-Marie Lawlor SC told the court that the fulcrum of the State's case was the belief evidence of Detective Chief Superintendent Anthony Howard.
Det Supt Howard, who is head of the Special Detective Unit, gave evidence that he believed Metcalfe was a member of the IRA on 24 November 2015 on the basis of material he had reviewed.
The witness told the court that he was claiming privilege in relation to this material due to his primary concern for the protection of life and to protect the security of the State.
This belief evidence was supported by inferences drawn from Metcalfe's failure to answer material questions at interview after gardai had invoked Section 2 of the Offences Against the State Act.
The section allows a court to draw inferences from a suspected person's failure or refusal to answer questions regarding alleged IRA membership.
In the court's verdict, presiding judge Mr Justice Tony Hunt said the "combined weight of evidence" was sufficient to establish Metcalfe's guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
He said there was a "heavy weight" attached to Metcalfe's failure to answer numerous material questions put to him by gardaí.
The questions related to Metcalfe's activities and the activities of a number of others who were convicted IRA members.
He said the court was satisfied that the correct inference to draw from Metcalfe's failure to answer questions was that he was in fact a member of the IRA.
Mr Justice Hunt, who sat with Judge Sinéad Ní Chúlacháin and Judge Cormac Dunne, remanded Metcalfe in custody to 25 January when he will be sentenced.
During the trial, Det Sgt Padraig Boyce gave evidence that he returned to Metcalfe's home in Clondalkin following his arrest on 24 November and whilst there he observed a Patrick Brennan walking out of the accused's house.
Brennan was jailed for four years for IRA membership in 2005.
In her closing speech, Ms Lawlor submitted that the accused chose not to answer multiple questions relating to Patrick Brennan because he knew Brennan was a convicted member of the IRA and his answers would not stand up to scrutiny.
"There is a nexus between Mr Metcalfe and Brennan," Ms Lawlor said.
Furthermore, Ms Lawlor said that Metcalfe was asked "material questions" about his meeting with David Nooney in Blanchardstown on 7 August 2015.
The accused provided "no comment" replies again because he could not give an answer which would stand up to scrutiny, she said.
Nooney was jailed for three years and nine months for IRA membership earlier this year.
She also noted that Metcalfe was asked material questions about his fingerprint being on a document found at David Murray's home in March 2015.
The court heard that Murray, of Cappogue Cottages, Finglas, Dublin 11, was convicted of IRA membership in 2017 and jailed for four and a half years.
"In respect of the questions that weren't answered, I will be asking the court to draw inferences," she said.
The barrister said that Metcalfe adopted a mantra of "I am not a member of the IRA" when questions were put to him in these interviews and it was "inserted" appropriately on some occasions and inappropriately on others.
She contended that the court could also draw inferences when false or misleading answers were given by the accused.