A Sunderland man has been remanded in custody on firearms and explosives charges following the discovery of a major weapons haul in Northern Ireland.
Kevin Nolan, 45, who was arrested on Wearside at the weekend, appeared before a district judge charged in connection with the seizure of over half a kilogram of Semtex explosives, two handguns, more than 200 rounds of ammunition and two detonators.
The weapons were found when the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) raided a property in the Ballymurphy area of west Belfast on Friday as part of an investigation into dissident republican activity.
Nolan, with an address at Whitchurch Close, Sunderland, clenched his fist above his head and waved to a number of supporters in the public gallery as he was led from the dock after the brief hearing at Belfast Magistrates’ Court.
During proceedings, the unshaven and balding defendant spoke only to confirm he understood the charges.
He faces counts of possessing explosives and firearms in suspicious circumstances and possession of explosives and firearms with intent to endanger life.
A police officer told judge Peter King he could connect the accused to the charges.
Defence solicitor Padraig O Muirigh made no application for bail.
“There is no application at this time but that will be kept under review,” he said.
Nolan was remanded in custody for four weeks to appear again before the same court, via video-link from prison, on October 20.
The threat level from dissidents opposed to the peace process in Northern Ireland remains severe.
Unionist politicians have described the discovery of Semtex, a plastic explosive used by the Provisional IRA during the 1980s and 1990s, as deeply concerning.
Former Libyan dictator Colonel Gaddafi sent three shipments of Semtex to the PIRA and victims have long been campaigning for compensation from any new Libyan Government.
The Northern Ireland Select Committee at Westminster is also conducting an inquiry into the role of the UK Government in seeking financial redress for those affected by explosives supplied by the Gaddafi regime.
It is believed the quantity of Semtex found in West Belfast would have been sufficient to make three under-car booby trap bombs.
A 29-year-old man arrested on Sunday in connection with the find has been released while a 21-year-old woman detained remains in custody.