Maguire will face further court charges: Former convent girl cleared of terrorist offences in four countries since 1989 to stay in custody, writes David McKittrick

The outcome of the trial in Dusseldorf yesterday means that Donna Maguire, the convent-educated daughter of a respectable County Down businessman, has been cleared of IRA-connected charges in four countries in the past five years.

Aged 27, she has spent most of her 20s in a variety of prisons in the Irish Republic, Belgium, Holland and Germany. She will, however, remain in custody in Germany to face further serious charges.

Although a German judge said it was clear they were members of an IRA 'active service unit', she and her co- accused denied any association with the IRA. To date the authorities in four countries have failed to substantiate any involvement in the IRA's continental campaign of violence, which caused numerous casualties in several countries.

Ms Maguire's brushes with the law began in July 1989 when she and another man were arrested in Rosslare in the Republic after leaving a ferry from Cherbourg. Explosives, mercury tilt-switches and photographs of British army installations in Germany were said to have been found. At the subsequent trial the man received a five-year sentence but Maguire was acquitted in February 1990.

Five months later she and three men were arrested on the Belgian-Dutch border after an alleged IRA targetpractice session. The Belgian authorities brought a series of charges against her but these were later dropped and in December 1990 she was extradited to Holland. Together with the three men, she was charged with the murders of two Australian tourists who were gunned down by an IRA unit which mistook them for British soldiers.

The ensuing court proceedings represented the most expensive case ever mounted in Holland, lasting many months and involving a book of evidence 7,000 pages long. But the case, though detailed, was largely circumstantial and, to the embarrassment of the Dutch prosecution service, it failed. One of Ms Maguire's co-defendants was convicted but released on appeal. She and the two others were then extradited to Germany to stand trial for the murder of Michael Dillon-Lee, which yesterday ended in their acquittal.

A number of other republican suspects and confirmed IRA members were arrested on the continent in the early 1990s: so many were picked up, in fact, that republican prisoners' support groups established a special section to deal with their welfare.

The IRA's continental campaign opened a new front for the terrorists in the late 1980s, but it brought a series of killings, such as that of the Australian tourists and the six-month old daughter of a British serviceman, which were in republican terms counter-productive.

One of the central figures in the IRA's continental campaign, Dessie Grew, was killed by the SAS in October 1990 after he had returned to Northern Ireland. Since then IRA violence in Europe has largely petered out.

(Photographs omitted)

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Project and Quality Manager

£28000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company is an independent ...

Recruitment Genius: Trainee Sales Executive - OTE £20,625

£14625 - £20625 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This role is for an enthusiasti...

Guru Careers: Financial Controller

£45 - £55k DOE: Guru Careers: A Financial Controller is required to join a suc...

Recruitment Genius: Fertility Nurse

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity to join the ho...

Day In a Page

Turkey's conflict with Kurdish guerrillas in Iraq can benefit Isis in Syria

Turkey's conflict with Kurdish guerrillas in Iraq can benefit Isis in Syria

Turkish President Erdogan could benefit politically from the targeting of the PKK, says Patrick Cockburn
Yvette Cooper: Our choice is years of Tory rule under Jeremy Corbyn or a return to a Labour government

Our choice is years of Tory rule under Corbyn or a return to a Labour government

Yvette Cooper urged Labour members to 'get serious' about the next general election rather than become 'a protest movement'
Singapore's domestic workers routinely exploited and often abused in the service of rich nationals

Singapore's hidden secret of domestic worker abuse

David Cameron was shown the country's shiniest veneer on his tour. What he didn't see was the army of foreign women who are routinely exploited and often abused in the service of rich nationals
Showdown by Shirley Jackson: A previously unpublished short story from the queen of American Gothic

Showdown, by Shirley Jackson

A previously unpublished short story from the queen of American Gothic
10 best DSLRs

Be sharp! 10 best DSLRs

Up your photography game with a versatile, powerful machine
Solved after 200 years: the mysterious deaths of 3,000 soldiers from Napoleon's army

Solved after 200 years

The mysterious deaths of 3,000 soldiers from Napoleon's army
Every regional power has betrayed the Kurds so Turkish bombing is no surprise

Robert Fisk on the Turkey conflict

Every regional power has betrayed the Kurds so Turkish bombing is no surprise
Investigation into wreck of unidentified submarine found off the coast of Sweden

Sunken sub

Investigation underway into wreck of an unidentified submarine found off the coast of Sweden
Instagram and Facebook have 'totally changed' the way people buy clothes

Age of the selfie

Instagram and Facebook have 'totally changed' the way people buy clothes
Not so square: How BBC's Bloomsbury saga is sexing up the period drama

Not so square

How Virginia Woolf saga is sexing up the BBC period drama
Rio Olympics 2016: The seven teenagers still carrying a torch for our Games hopes

Still carrying the torch

The seven teenagers given our Olympic hopes
The West likes to think that 'civilisation' will defeat Isis, but history suggests otherwise

The West likes to think that 'civilisation' will defeat Isis...

...but history suggests otherwise
The bald truth: How one author's thinning hair made him a Wayne Rooney sympathiser

The bald truth

How thinning hair made me a Wayne Rooney sympathiser
Froome wins second Tour de France after triumphant ride into Paris with Team Sky

Tour de France 2015

Froome rides into Paris to win historic second Tour
Fifteen years ago, Concorde crashed, and a dream died. Today, the desire to travel faster than the speed of sound is growing once again

A new beginning for supersonic flight?

Concorde's successors are in the works 15 years on from the Paris crash