Colin Duffy bailed after 27 months in jail

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Prominent Lurgan republican Colin Duffy has been released on bail after spent more than two years in prison.

His co-accused Alex McCrory was also released on bail. The news came just days after Harry Fitzimmons, of no fixed abode, had been granted bail because of the length of time he had spent on remand.

Duffy and McCrory had been awaiting trial since 2013.

All three are alleged to be senior members of the ‘IRA’ and accused of trying to kill members of the PSNI in an attack on a police vehicle in north Belfast in December 2013.

They were among the longest serving remand prisoners since the end of the Troubles.

Prosecutors say they were recorded for more than an hour while holding a ‘leadership command discussion regarding the IRA, its activities and future direction’ including the amount of arms and explosives at its disposal.

Defence lawyers mounted successful applications based on the delay in the criminal proceedings.

They are fighting attempts to prosecute them along with Henry Fitzsimons for a series of alleged terror-related offences.

The three men are accused of belonging to an IRA grouping, and attempting to murder members of the PSNI.

They faces further counts of possessing firearms and ammunition, and conspiring to murder security force members.

Lawyers for 48-year-old Duffy, formerly of Forest Glade in Lurgan; 54-year-old McCrory, from Sliabh Dubh View in Belfast; and 47-year-old Fitzsimons, of no fixed address, are challenging the strength of the evidence against them.

They contend that the three accused should not be returned for trial.

Last week Fitzsimons was granted bail after spending 27 months in custody.

During preliminary inquiry proceedings at Belfast Magistrates’ Court last Wednesday lawyers for Duffy and McCrory secured their releases from custody too.

Presiding District Judge Fiona Bagnall was told that it was the first bail application by Duffy.

She was told that the more than 26 months he spent in custody is the equivalent of a four-and-a-half year sentence.

A prosecuting barrister said the two accused posed a risk of reoffending, absconding and interfering with witnesses.

Defence solicitor Peter Corrigan confirmed: “Mr Duffy and Mr McCrory were granted bail due to the excessive delay and uncertainty over any predicted trial date.

“If it was in England they would have been released 10 times under the custody time limits.”

A District Judge imposed tight conditions, including curfews, electronic monitoring and daily reporting to police.

The pair are also banned from leaving the jurisdiction and must surrender any travel documents.