Originally published in Volume V, Issue 1 on 22nd September 1998 by Sarah Egan.
The future remains uncertain for two UCD students who were arrested in London during the summer and charged with a wave of bombings in the UK capital. Last Thursday, Liam Grogan and Anthony Hyland, who were arrested on July 10th were further remanded in custody until October 22nd to allow the police further time to compile the evidence against them.
The men were arrested after a joint operation between Gardai and MI5, which led to six arrests in London and four in Ireland. Grogan and Hyland stand accused of possession of explosives and conspiracy to cause an explosion, along with Elaine Moore, the Irish woman who is currently out of prison on bail. A fourth person, Darren Mulholland, is also charged with conspiracy.
Liam Grogan, was repeating final year commerce last year, while Anthony Hyland had completed a degree in economics and was expected to return to UCD to do a masters. Both had been involved in Sinn Fein in UCD for short periods, but they left when they became disaffected with the organisation. Grogan was registered as the chairperson of the UCD Sinn Fein cumann last year, although he was apparently no longer active in the organisation. According to current chairperson, Mark Grehan, his name was used as he was already known to Gardai as a member of Sinn Fein and it was hoped that the new chair would avoid “special branch harassment” by not having his name registered as chair of the group.
Neither man was known to Gardai in a criminal context and acquaintances at UCD expressed surprised at their arrests. Hyland was described as “very ordinary, quiet, reserved…he would never strike you as the kind of person who would get involved in that.”
The question of how young people are recruited by paramilitary organisations has provoked an amount of interest in the national media, with one paper claiming that republican groups, such as the “Real” IRA target universities and colleges and recruit “sleepers” – young people with no criminal records, who are unknown to police and thus can travel without attracting attention.
However, Mark Grehan has denied the possibility of recruiting among the members of Sinn Fein UCD. “Sinn Fein is dedicated to independence through constitutional means. The members of Sinn Fein would not join such organisations so there would be no point in anyone trying to recruit them.” He said he had no idea how paramilitary organisations would attract young volunteers claiming “you would have to have the mindset of those people.” A member of Fianna Fail in UCD agreed that the notion of recruiting has been “really hyped up by the media…the parties here are really small, you’d know if it was going on. People would have to be leaning that way and they’d probably get involved because they knew someone already involved.”
Students’ Union President John Nisbet has expressed concern at the possibility of recruitment in UCD. “People could be easily swayed if they have violent republican tendencies and they could be preyed upon by people who know their politics in college.” Nisbet says that he has been following the case closely but ruled out the possibility of the Students’ Union getting involved in helping the students with their legal situation. “A matter of this magnitude is beyond the remit of the Student’s Union. If it was shown that the arrests were questionable or that human rights were being infringed then maybe we could help, but at the moment it would be wrong to get involved.”
The situation at the moment is unclear, with no date yet set for the trial. Grogan and Hyland have made no statement to the press regarding their guilt or innocence, in sharp contrast with Elaine Moore, whose mother has repeatedly defended her daughter’s innocence. Ms. Moore received some of her bail money from prominent politicians Mary Banotti and Peter Barry and her solicitor is Gareth Pierce, whose clients have included the Guildford Four. Grogan and Hyland were denied bail and remain incarcerated in Belmarsh high security prison. It was initially thought that those arrested were members of the 32 County Sovereignty Committee, although one of the men arrested in Ireland simultaneously with the arrests in London is a known member of the INLA, who have since declared a ceasefire.