Four men who were arrested during a major garda operation in Co Offaly on Wednesday have appeared in court.

The four, all from Brazil, appeared before Portlaoise District Court on weapons charges.

23-year-old Hugo Henrique Rodrigues, with an address at Ballymahon in Co Longford; Ildomar Cabrar De Silva, 29, of no fixed abode; 36-year-old Sergio Machado Filho, with an address at Temple Bar in Dublin and Jefferson Dos Santos, 34, with an address at Ballymahon in Co Longford, were brought separately to the courthouse this morning.

All four were charged with two charges of possession of firearms or ammunition as well as a breach of Covid-19 regulations regarding travel.

They were arrested at 12.02am on Wednesday near Clara while travelling in two vehicles.

Gardaí objected to bail being granted on a number of grounds in relation to Mr Rodrigues and Mr Filho, including the seriousness of the charges and the risk that the accused would return to Brazil and not stand trial here.

Judge Catherine Staines refused bail in both cases.

There was no application for bail from Mr Dos Santos or Mr De Silva.

The court rose for a time to allow gardaí to check if Mr Filho has been tested for Covid-19 after Judge Staines heard that he had been hospitalised for a time while in custody, before being discharged after three hours.

The judge observed that he had been coughing while in court.

Gardaí said that he had been prescribed two medications for a cough and advised by doctors that if symptoms persisted, he should be tested for Covid-19.

The court heard that Cloverhill Prison in Dublin has the ability to cater for all prisoners on remand, whether Covid positive or negative.

The judge ordered that Mr Filho be tested immediately, both for his own welfare and for that of other prisoners.

Judge Staines remanded all four in custody to Cloverhill Prison to appear at Cloverhill District Court next Wednesday for directions from the Director of Public Prosecutions.