Northern Ireland

Five to stand trial over PIRA membership

Three men and two women will stand trial accused of IRA membership more than a decade ago, a judge has ruled.

The accused include Sinn Fein's Padraic Wilson, 54, with an address at the Sinn Fein Advice Centre on the Falls Road and Seamus Finucane, 56, of Hawthorn Hill, Hannahstown, a brother of murdered solicitor Pat Finucane.

Alongside them were Agnes McCrory, 73, of Dermott Hill Road; Briege Wright, 56, from Glassmullin Gardens; and Martin Edward Morris, 49, with an address at Wellbeck Road in London.

All five appeared before the city's magistrates' court where it was decided they had cases to answer.

It is alleged that all five belonged to a proscribed organisation, namely the Provisional IRA, on dates between 1997 and 2000.

The full details of charges in the case cannot be disclosed for legal reasons.

Ban lifted

A preliminary investigation was due to be held to test the strength of the prosecution case.

But following private discussions it was decided to proceed with a shorter hearing.

The judge agreed to return all five defendants for trial at Belfast Crown Court on a date to be fixed.

They were all released on £250 bail to appear again when those proceedings get underway.

A ban on publishing the defendants' identities had been lifted in October last year.

Following Monday's hearing the Courts Service initially indicated that the reporting restrictions were being reinstated until the case reaches the Crown Court.

However, a spokesman later confirmed the judge has decided against any such prohibition, provided an alleged victim connected to the case is not identified.