Saturday 18 January 2020

Legal challenge against alleged failure to release IRA leader Michael McKevitt adjourned

Michael McKevitt. Pic: courtpix.
Michael McKevitt. Pic: courtpix.

Aodhan O Faolain

A legal challenge against the alleged failure of the Minister for Justice to release convicted IRA leader Michael McKevitt, under a scheme of enhanced remission of sentence, has been adjourned for a week.

McKevitt (aged 59) from Beech Park, Blackrock, Co Louth had sought an  Article 40 inquiry claiming his continued detention at Portlaoise Prison is unlawful.

Today his barrister Remy Farrell SC told the High Court that things had “moved on” since Friday when the Surpeme Court overturned an earlier remission release decision of the High Court and directed a re-arrest of the prisoner.

McKevitt was jailed for 20 years in 2003 for directing terrorism and membership the Real IRA. He claimed he was entitled to one third remission of his sentence for good behaviour and participation in activities designed to prepare him for release.

His lawyers claimed that if proper consideration for a one third enhanced remission had been given he would already have been released by now.

Judge Bernard Barton, who heard McKevitt’s application, adjourned ruling on the matter pending the decision of the Supreme Court in a case brought by Limerick man Eddie Ryan where a similar legal argument had been made.

Last month Ryan was released from prison after Mr Justice Max Barrett  found that under Rule 59 of the 2007 Prison rules Ryan, imprisoned for possession of a pistol and ammunition, was entitled to release.

On Friday last the Supreme Court ruled Ryan’s release by the High Court was invalid and ordered his re-arrest.

The Supreme Court held his release by way of habeas corpus under Article 40 of the Constitution was not the appropriate remedy on the issue of remission of prison sentence.

It agreed with the State, which had appealed the Ryan High Court ruling, that Ryan's application for early release should have been brought by way of judicial review.

Today, when McKevitt's case was briefly mentioned before Mr Justice  Michael Moriarty, Mr Farrell  said matters had "moved on" following Friday's Supreme Court ruling.

Counsel said his client was now considering bringing a judicial review aimed at securing his release.  Judge Moriarty said adjourned the matter before Judge Barton next Monday 

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