Provisional IRA extortion re-trial begins

The first attempt earlier this year ended when the jury failed to agree verdicts. The re-trial, apparently of only two of the three original defendants, Nick Mullen, 60, from Acton, west London, and Máirtín’s “mate” Ronald McCartney, 55, from Belfast, whose early release licence was revoked by Shaun Woodward in May 2008, has now gotten underway.

The alleged victims cannot be named for legal reasons. In a threatening phone call, one of the businessmen, who once provided security for Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams, was told: “There has been an investigation and we know what you’re up to,” Southwark Crown Court heard. He was then told he would be sent a letter giving him instructions on what to do next.

Four days later both men received letters through the post, bearing the Irish Gaelic for the Provisional IRA – Oglaigh na h-Eireann – and signed with the organisation’s nom de guerre “PO’Neill”. The letters told the men that in a “prolonged and intensive investigation… it had been established that both of you have used our organisation for personal gain”. The former Sinn Fein supporter was accused of abusing the “position of trust” he once held.