Charges brought in Laois counterfeiting operation

It’s taken a while, but four men have finally been charged in connection with the sophisticated counterfeiting operation and underground bunker uncovered in a joint operation by Europol and gardaí in Ballybrophy, Borris-in-Ossory, County Laois, in May last year.  From the Irish Times report

A former leading member of the Provisional IRA and prison escaper was one of four men who appeared at the Special Criminal Court yesterday, charged with possessing equipment to make counterfeit money.

Anthony Sloan was arrested last year and is facing a charge of IRA membership. He and three other men were yesterday remanded by the non-jury court until October.

The four are Mr Sloan (57), Ard na Mara, Dundalk, Co Louth, Liam Delaney (41), Kevin Flanagan (42), Borris- in-Ossory, Co Laois, and Andrew Poole (43), Portlaoise, Co Laois.

Sloan had been released on bail on IRA membership charges in November 2010.

From the archived Europol press release in June 2010

In a joint operation, Europol and the Garda Police have arrested four men as part of a major investigation into one of the most sophisticated money counterfeiting set-ups uncovered in Europe to date.

At the site near Borris–in–Ossory in the Irish midlands, criminals had established an underground illicit print shop facility contained in two 40–foot containers serviced with electricity, heating and running water. A large amount of security printing paper, inks and holograms were seized, as well as other materials used in the counterfeit printing process, including three industrial printers.

The operation, led by the Garda Bureau of Fraud Investigation and supported by the Emergency Response Unit, other national support units and local Garda from Abbeyleix, was initiated following analysis of increased activity in counterfeiting across Europe. Yesterday’s arrests were the culmination of an extensive operation that has been ongoing for a number of months and has involved information sharing across a number of international law enforcement agencies including Europol.

As yesterday’s Irish Examiner report reminds us

Anthony Sloan was charged last November with membership of an illegal organisation styling itself the Irish Republican Army, otherwise Oglaigh na hÉireann, otherwise the IRA on October 31 last year.

He was one of eight Provisional IRA prisoners who escaped from Crumlin Road prison in Belfast in 1981.

The day after the escape Sloan was convicted of possession of an M60 machine gun and jailed for 20 years in his absence.

He fled to the Republic where he was later recaptured by gardaí and jailed for eight years.

Sloan successfully challenged attempts to extradite him to the North and settled in the Republic.

In December 2000, he and the seven other members of the so-called ‘M60 Gang’ were given a royal pardon.