A Dublin judge has warned prosecutors he wants a prominent republican to stand trial for tax evasion charges as quickly as possible.

The reputed former IRA head faces tax evasion charges in the Irish Republic.

Thomas "Slab" Murphy is a legendary figure who security sources say was once Chief of Staff of the IRA.

He appeared in the Special Criminal Court in Dublin concerning nine charges that were brought against him almost two-and-a-half years ago. Murphy, from South Armagh, has been the target of a major probe that alleges he smuggled goods back and forth across the border.

Justice Paul Butler stated that the case was "quite ancient," and that it needed to be dealt with right away.

He refused a request by counsel for Murphy for another lengthy adjournment

The prosecution stated that they had filed the case almost a year ago and were still waiting for a reply from Murphy's defense team.

Prosecutors claim Murphy failed to furnish a return of his income, profits or gains to the Collector General or the Inspector of Taxes for the years 1996/97 to 2004.

The case was brought against Murphy after an investigation by the Criminal Assets Bureau.

The 60-year-old, of Ballybinaby, Hackballscross, Co Louth, was in court for the brief hearing.