Convicted terrorist Michael McKevitt has been learning yoga, French, creative writing, home economics and web design in prison, a court heard today as he brought fresh legal proceedings aimed at securing his early release.
Last month McKevitt ( 65) from Beech Park, Blackrock, Co Louth, sought an inquiry under Article 40 of the Constitution claiming his continued detention at Portlaoise Prison is unlawful.
He was jailed for 20 years in 2003 for directing terrorism and membership of the Real IRA and argued he was entitled to one third remission of his sentence for good behaviour and and participation in activities .
The activities included work while in prison along with a number of courses including French, creative writing, yoga, home economics and web design.
He also got academic qualifications in computing, literacy, French, and digital imagery, while he also studied creative writing with the Open University.
Today McKevitt withdrew his Article 40 application following a ruling by the Supreme Court in a case where similar legal points had been raised in an Article 40 application. The Supreme Court held the application ought to have been taken by way of judicial review.
Mr Justice Kevin Cross today gave McKevitt permission to have the High Court consider if the Minister for Justice should have released him. In his proceedings against the Minister and the State, McKevitt’s barrister, Mark Lynam, submitted that the Minister did not give proper consideration to his request for enhanced remission.
McKevitt also claims the Minister may have considered improper material, including a report from the Garda Siochana that he was likely to re-offend if released.
McKevitt had been granted temporary release twice during his imprisonment on humanitarian grounds to visit his ill mother, the court heard. He claims he should have been released in late July instead of March 2016 under the usual 25 per cent remission.
Lawyers for the State told Judge Cross they intend to oppose Mr McKevitt’s new application. In a reserved judgment given earlier today by Mr Justice Bernard Barton the court held Mr McKevitt was being detained on a valid warrant.
His judgment was based on the Supreme Court’s ruling in an action brought by Limerick man Eddie Ryan. In July Ryan was released from prison but the Supreme Court ordered his re-arrest.