Man appears at Belfast Magistrates/ Court on weapon and explosive charges

Man appears at Belfast Magistrates/ Court on weapon and explosive charges

DETECTIVES claim a man accused of storing explosives at his west Belfast home is “deeply involved” with a dissident republican organisation.

They allege alcoholic Louis McKenna was trusted to keep a substantial amount of suspected pipe bomb parts, a pistol and bullets at his west Belfast home.

The 52-year-old was detained following planned searches at his Forest Street address on Saturday.

It follows an intelligence gathering operation on dissident republicans.

McKenna appeared before Belfast Magistrates’ Court today after three nights in the serious crime suite in Antrim.

He was charged with possessing a firearm, assorted ammunition and improvised explosive device (IED) components in suspicious circumstances.

Bail was refused due to the risk of re-offending or interfering with witnesses.

McKenna said he understood the charges that were put to him.

Bail was opposed by a detective from the PSNI’s Terrorist Investigation Unit.

He claimed McKenna may flee, try to speak to others who visited his home or commit other offences.

The officer told the remand hearing: “Police believe the defendant is deeply involved in the activities of a dissident republican organisation to the extent that he is trusted to store a substantial amount of IED component parts, a firearm and ammunition which presents a serious risk of loss of life.

“The current threat posed by dissidents is classified as severe.”

It was claimed that during police interviews McKenna denied knowing anything about the gun and explosives and named others who visited the house.

The district judge refused bail over fears he may re-offend and interfere with witnesses.

McKenna was remanded in custody to appear again by video-link on Tuesday, February 24.

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