November 02 2012

Padraic Wilson, pictured in 1999

A former IRA leader in the Maze prison in Northern Ireland has been remanded into custody on charges linked to a police investigation into a murder outside a Belfast bar.

Padraic Wilson was accused of IRA membership and addressing a meeting encouraging support for the organisation.

A detective told Belfast Magistrates’ Court that Wilson, 53, took part in a meeting with the sisters of Robert McCartney, 33, who was stabbed to death outside the pub in 2005. The court was told police were not connecting him to the murder.

Wilson was the leader of IRA prisoners in the Maze in the late 1990s. He was remanded in custody after police expressed fears the political manager would intimidate witnesses, a claim denied by his lawyer Peter Madden. A detective told the court: “The police objections to bail are based on our concerns of interference with witnesses and reoffending.”

He said it is alleged that at the time the offences took place in 2005, the accused, a married father-of-two from Hamill Park in Andersonstown, west Belfast, was reported to be a member of the IRA’s ruling army council.

“He still holds a significant position of influence within portions of the community and because of that we have concerns that there would be interference with witnesses,” the policeman said.

He said six witness statements had been received from Mr McCartney’s sisters and former partner accusing him of involvement in an IRA internal investigation following the murder of Mr McCartney.

The detective said: “It is alleged that Mr Wilson and an unidentified person met with the family in their capacity as members of the IRA and as representatives of the Army Council of the IRA. That role was carrying out an internal investigation into the murder. It is alleged that at least two meetings were held with members of the family and Mr Wilson.”

The detective said the McCartney family were able to identify Wilson recently through internet research and recognised him as he person who took the lead in addressing the meetings. He said: “This is an unusual case and it certainly would be our belief that Mr Wilson would have the ability to influence things and that is something which will be difficult to manage.”

Wilson, who wore a checked shirt, spoke only to confirm he understood the charges. Magistrate Fiona Bagnall remanded him in custody to November 30.