WEDNESDAY 17/12/2003 11:24:17 UTV
One in alleged IRA spy-ring cleared

One of the four people charged in connection with the so-called Stormontgate affair which led to the collapse of the power-sharing Executive after the discovery of an alleged IRA spy ring was cleared today.

Fiona Farrelly, a 47-year-old caterer, from Rosgoill Park, West, Belfast, was freed after the charges against her were withdrawn without explanation at the Magistrates Court.

She had been accused of of possessing the personal details of prison officers and having an IBM Think Pad laptop which could be useful to terrorists.

The three other accused, who were due to be committed for trial today, had their cases adjourned until next month.

They are Denis Donaldson (53), Sinn Fein`s head of administration at Stormont, from Aitnamona Crescent, his son-in-law Ciaran Kearney (32), from Commedagh Drive, and William Mackessy (45), a former Stormont porter, from Wolfend Way, Ligoniel, all Belfast.

They are charged with possessing documents which could be useful to terrorists. They were arrested in October last year after police raided Sinn Fein`s office at Stormont and have been on bail following various periods in custody.

Peter Madden, solicitor for Donaldson, complained that although the case had been listed for a preliminary enquiry today the papers had only been served this morning.

"This case is a year and three months old and all along there has been no indicatation when it was going to move forward," he said.

Michael Crawford, solicitor for Kearney, said a number of personal effects, including letters and photographs, were seized by police and had not been returned, despite repeated requests.

"This is causing him some distress, particularly as his father has passed away," said Mr Crawford.

The prosecuting lawyer said he had now been informed that all matters not pertinent to the investigation would be returned.

The three accused were remanded on continuing bail until January 7.

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