A Dublin man who was arrested trying to transport 1.6 kilos (about 3.5lb) of high grade explosives and three detonators on the Bus Eireann bus to Londonderry has been jailed for seven years by the Special Criminal Court.
The court heard that Busaras station had to be evacuated after Special Branch detectives intercepted Patrick Brennan on board the bus.
Brennan (53) was arrested last June by officers from the Special Detective Unit (SDU) at Busaras, in Store Street, in central Dublin, following a tip-off.
Brennan, of Lindisfarne Avenue, Clondalkin, Dublin 22, pleaded guilty to possessing four 400-gramme blocks (about 0.9lb each) of TNT and three electric explosive detonators on June 16, 2016.
Detective Sergeant Padraig Boyce, SDU, told the court that Brennan had been under surveillance “as part of an on-going investigation” into the activities of IRA members in the Dublin area.
Det Sgt Boyce said that on the day of the arrest, the married father-of-six was observed leaving his house at around 4.50am before immediately getting into a taxi.
The taxi took the accused to the bus station in Dublin’s city centre, where he waited for around 50 minutes before boarding the Bus Eireann 5.55am service to Londonderry, the three-judge court was told.
At all times, Brennan had a blue canvas bag in his possession and this bag was placed in the seat next to him when he was arrested aboard the bus by three SDU officers.
Det Sgt Boyce told prosecution counsel Ronan Kennedy that gardai had made a “significant discovery” after Brennan was detained.
He said: “In the base of the bag there was four blocks of Trinitrotoluene, commonly known as TNT, and three electronic detonators in good condition strapped to the TNT.”
On discovery of the explosives, “the surrounding area was evacuated and the army was called”, Det Sgt Boyce said.
Brennan, who had been jailed for four years in 2005 for IRA membership, was the sole passenger on the bus at the time of his arrest, Det Sg Boyce added.
He said that he believed the quantity of explosives could have been used in the construction of “six to eight” separate car bombs.
He said: “From devices that have been recovered intact, 200 grammes (of explosives) have been used.”
And although the explosives were not armed, Det Sgt Boyce said the TNT had been “lethally packaged” and could have been detonated by a “static charge” whilst being moved.
Sentencing him to seven years imprisonment backdated to last June, Mr Justice Tony Hunt, presiding, said that while Brennan’s role was confined to transportation, acting as a willing courier was the same as taking part in terrorist activities.
The judge said that the court was prepared to suspend the final two years of the sentence if Brennan gave an undertaking not associate with members of unlawful organisations.
However, after a brief consultation Brennan’s counsel, Mr Diarmaid Mac Guinness SC said that his client was not in a position to give such an undertaking and the court imposed the full seven years prison sentence.