Special Criminal Court

Bomb threat accused told gardai he did not like the Queen

Claire McGovern

Reporter:

Claire McGovern

Bomb threat accused told gardai he did not like the Queen

A Longford man accused of making bomb threats during the state visit of the UK Queen five years ago told gardai that the British monarch stood for the security forces in Northern Ireland and that he did not like her, the Special Criminal Court has heard.

The court also heard that Donal Billings (65), who is further accused of placing an IED on a Dublin-bound passenger bus on the eve of the royal visit, told gardai that allegations against him were "nonsense" and that he had been visiting his brother that evening.

Mr Billings, of St Bridget’s Court, Drumlish, County Longford is charged with the unlawful possession of an explosive substance at Longford railway station car park on May 16th, 2011.

He is further charged with four offences under the Criminal Law Act of 1976 of knowingly making false reports tending to show that an offence had been committed.

The charges allege that he made a false report within the State on May 16th, 2011, that bombs had been placed at Busáras in Dublin and at Sinn Féin's headquarters.

He is also charged with making a false report on May 18th that two mortars were set for Dublin Castle, and with making a false report on May 20th that two bombs had been placed in the toilets at Cork airport.

Mr Billings has pleaded not guilty to each of the five charges.

Previously, the court has heard evidence on the eve of and during the royal visit three phonecalls were made to Longford garda station, threatening bombs on buses and the Sinn Fein headquarters, mortars at Dublin Castle, and two bombs in the toilets at Cork airport on the day Queen Elizabeth was due to depart.

Today, Sergeant Adrian O'Neill, from Galway, told the court that the accused man was interviewed by gardai in the Irish language.

Reading the interviews to the court, the Sergeant said on May 21st, 2011, gardai asked Mr Billings if he was at Longford train station on Monday evening, May 16th, between 7pm and 8.30pm.

The accused man said he was not and that he drove that evening to Mullingar, where he met his brother.

Previously, the court has heard evidence about a SIM card allegedly found on Mr Billings after he was arrested in a LIDL carpark in Longford on May 20th.

It is part of the prosecution's case that the number associated with that SIM card was used to call in the bomb threats to Longford garda station.

Sergeant O'Neill told the court that gardai asked Mr Billings about this SIM card.

The accused man replied that after driving into the LIDL carpark he saw a purse on the ground and after picking it up a SIM card fell out of a small book.

"There was nobody about so I kept it," he told the guards, the court heard.

The court also heard that Mr Billings told the gardai he did not like Queen Elizabeth.

"I have nothing against her as a person," he said during an interview on May 21st that year, the court heard, "But as long as England is in the six counties I'm not happy. She stands for the security forces in the north."

Mr Billings said he did not do anything to interrupt her visit, Sergeant O'Neill told the court

He said that the accused man further stated, "People wanted to interrupt it. That's democracy. They have the right to do it. I think that the people of Ireland have the same view. Look when Obama visited there were thousands on the street. When Elizabeth was here they weren't on the streets. They gave the votes with their feet."

Mr Billings told the guards that the allegations were "nonsense" and that he did not place anything on the bus.

The trial resumes on Monday.