Woman on terror charges described in court as ‘leading member of New IRA’

A Co Tyrone woman facing terrorist charges has been described in court as a “leading member of the New IRA”.

The allegation was made today as Sharon Jordan mounted a fresh bid to be released from custody after previous attempts to secure bail were rejected.

Jordan (48), of Cappagh Road, Dungannon, has been on remand in Hydebank Wood Women’s Prison since August 2020 charged with directing terrorism, belonging to a proscribed organisation — namely the IRA — and two counts of preparation of acts of terrorism.

The mother-of-three was one of ten people who were arrested as part of a joint surveillance operation, codenamed ‘Operation Arbacia’, between the MI5 and the PSNI’s Terrorism Investigation Unit, which involved the bugging of two properties in Co Tyrone and one in Scotland.

The case centres on audio and video recordings from properties in Sixmilecross and Omagh in February and July 2020.

A prosecution lawyer told the High Court in Belfast today that Jordan had attended both properties and also spoke during the course of those meetings.

The lawyer said that, during the meetings, those present discussed targets, weaponry, finances and recruitment along with forging international relations.

“There were only two females at these meetings, one being Mandy Duffy [Amanda McCabe] and the other one being this applicant, Mrs Jordan,” the prosecutor told Mr Justice Colton.

Opposing the bail application, the prosecutor said there was a risk of flight, there was a risk of reoffending, and the defendant had a previous terrorist related conviction.

“We say this shows that she is wedded to violence for her ideological means.”

The prosecutor pointed out that Mandy Duffy (52), of Ailsbury Gardens, Lurgan, Co Armagh, who faces the same charges as Jordan, was refused High Court bail in July this year.

The prosecutor said Mr Justice O’Hara rejected Duffy’s latest application for bail after highlighting her alleged “significant and sinister” role within the New IRA.

The prosecutor said Jordan was regarded as “one of the leading members of the New IRA leadership. She has a leadership role and she is on the Army Executive.

“The prosecution have made the case abundantly clear up to this point that, from the transcripts, these are meetings of the Army Executive, and those present are referred to as the ‘middle leadership’.

“Two of those present were David Jordan and Kevin Barry Murphy. They are in high positions and they are on the Army Council. They are there to address the Army Executive on behalf of the Army Council.

“Everyone present at these meetings are high-ranking members of the New IRA.”

Defence barrister Joe Brolly dismissed the secretly bugged meetings as no more than “talking shops”.

Mr Brolly said Jordan had been in custody for more than three years and it would be at least 2025 before a trial could take place, “by which time this applicant would have spent five years-plus on remand awaiting trial”.

Mr Brolly continued: “This is a case, for the want of a better word, that stinks. There will be the most robust attack on this case because at the very heart of this case is the cheerleader, the orchestrator, the person who arranged the meetings, the person who drove people to the meetings, the person who set up the audio and video recording — and that is MI5 agent Dennis McFadden.

“He sourced and paid for the Airbnbs for the meetings, he rounded up all the participants for the meetings, and in his black Mercedes van he drove the attendees to the meetings and probably recorded everything being said in his van.

“McFadden, who had been infiltrating Saoradh marches for about five or six years, was a member of the Scottish constabulary and he had Irish connections. He was spotted by someone at a march who said: ‘That guy’s a cop. I know him from Glasgow.’

“McFadden’s role is in the public domain and newspapers and media have widely talked about him being an MI5 agent.

“But he has been airbrushed from the [prosecution] papers essentially.”

As well as highlighting the delay in the case, the defence barrister said the prosecution faced evidential difficulties in proving its case against Jordan, and that it wasn’t a serious threat from a terrorist organisation, as this did not bear scrutiny from the transcripts of the meetings, describing some of the conversations as “risible”.

The court heard the defendant’s family and friends had raised a total of £15,000 in sureties to secure her release to live with her father if granted bail.

Mr Justice Colton said he had a lot of material to consider and would give his ruling on the bail application by the end of this week.

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