IRA volunteer 'had contact' with Mayhew

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The Independent Online
An IRA volunteer accused of plotting to bomb electricity supply stations and black out parts of London had contact with the former Northern Ireland Secretary, Sir Patrick Mayhew, he told the Old Bailey yesterday.

Gerard Hanratty said he also met the new Secretary, Mo Mowlam, during the early peace process. He told the court he was serving a sentence for IRA activities at the time and had a brief discussion with Ms Mowlam.

He had approved of the ceasefire, but as time went on became frustrated by the "inactivity" of John Major's government, he told the court.

Mr Hanratty said he had remained a member of the IRA after his release and during the peace process. When the ceasefire ended with the Canary Wharf bombing, he felt "sad and shocked," he told the jury.

He said he was called to a meeting by the IRA three months after the ceasefire ended and agreed to go on a mission for them in England. He was shown maps and documentation about power sources, and told the court of a "dry run" to a electricity sub-station in Ireland: "The purpose was a dry run for what we were going to do in England."

They put empty wooden boxes on a number of locations outside the station and then disconnected them, he said.

The prosecution alleges Mr Hanratty was part of an IRA active service unit which plotted to blitz electricity sub-stations.But the conspiracy was foiled by a police and security services operation, prosecutor Nigel Sweeney has told the jury.

Seven members of an IRA active service unit were in London within months of the ceasefire ending, he claimed. An eighth was to provide support and find premises in the Birmingham area. The initial targets were six electrical sub-stations: Amersham Main, Elstree, Waltham Cross, Canterbury north, west Weybridge and Rayleigh, the court has heard.

Mr Hanratty, 38, Martin Murphy, 36, Donald Gannon, 34, Patrick Martin, 35, Robert Morrow, 37, Francis Rafferty, 45, John Crawley, 39, and Clive Brampton, 36, deny conspiring between 1 January and 16 July last year to cause explosions likely to endanger life or cause serious injury to property.

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