Tuesday 18 June 2019

Jailed Real IRA leader Seamus McGrane dies in custody

Seamus McGrane
Seamus McGrane
Tom Brady

Tom Brady

Dissident republican leader Seamus McGrane, who died in hospital today after suffering what was believed to be a heart attack in Portlaoise maximum security prison, was one of only two men jailed for for directing a terrorist organisation.

McGrane (65), from Little Road, Dromiskin, Co Louth, was sent to prison for eleven and a half years by the Special Criminal Court in 2017.

He had been at the forefront of domestic terrorism on this side of the Border for several decades.

A highly active member of the Provisional IRA, he devoted much of his life to creating mayhem and destruction.

After a split in the Provisional movement following a row at a military convention in Falcarragh,Co Donegal, in 1997, McGrane and his close friend, Michael McKevitt were part of a group, who left as they were against the peace process and set up the Real IRA.

McKevitt subsequently was jailed for 20 years for directing the activities of a terrorism organisation and McGrane became the second to be convicted of that offence.

McGrane became a key player in the Real IRA and was caught at a firearms training camp in Stamullen, Co Meath, in 1999, and convicted.

On his release from jail, he returned to terrorism and was top of the list of dissident suspects monitored by the Garda Special Branch and the security and intelligence section at Garda headquarters until he was arrested in connection with plotting an explosion during the State visit of Prince Charles.

He had set up another dissident group known as OnH and evidence was given at his trial that he had discussed an operation involving explosives in the run up to Prince Charles visit in 2015.

He was also found guilty of membership of an illegal organisation.

After his sentence was delivered, the then head of the Special Branch, Det Chief Supt Tom Maguire said it was a "very significant conviction" for An Garda Siochana.

McGrane became ill in the wing holding dissident republican prisoners at Portlaoise shortly after midday and was rushed across the road to Portlaoise hospital where he died.

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