Sunday 19 January 2020

McKevitt bid for freedom dashed by Supreme Court

Michael McKevitt. Pic: courtpix.
Michael McKevitt. Pic: courtpix.
Nicola Anderson

Nicola Anderson

THE alleged Real IRA leader Michael McKevitt is facing a major setback in his bid for early release, after the Supreme Court ordered the re-arrest of a criminal released last month on the same grounds on which McKevitt had been relying.

Eddie Ryan Jnr, son of deceased Limerick gangland boss Eddie Ryan, is on his way back behind bars after the court issued a warrant for his arrest, after finding that his release by the High Court under Article 40 of the Constitution was invalid.

Ryan will be brought back to the Midlands Prison to serve out the rest of his term. With normal remission, he is expected to be released in November.

The 31-year-old was sentenced to six years' imprisonment in July 2010 after pleading guilty to firearms offences, admitting possession of a high-powered pistol and 15 rounds of ammunition.

His lawyers argued that he was entitled to remission, as he has been of good behaviour and has availed of structured activities and courses in prison.

Alan Shatter - the then Minister for Justice, in a decision communicated to Ryan last April, turned down Ryan's application to be released with one-third remission, saying he did not qualify.

In a High Court hearing, Colman Fitzgerald SC for Eddie Ryan, said the minister did not give reasons for his decision and that his client did not know why his application was refused.

Mr Justice Max Barrett said he was ruling in favour of Ryan and ordered his immediate release. However that High Court ruling has now been set aside by the State's successful appeal to the Supreme Court.

The panel of three judges, Chief Justice Susan Denham, Mr Justice Adrian Hardiman and Mr Justice John MacMenamin found that Ryan was not entitled to seek release under Article 40 of the Constitution - saying this was "not the appropriate remedy for the issue of remission".

"The special and extraordinary features of the Article 40 procedure are not required for the examination of this complaint," read the judgment.

Ryan is free to seek a judicial review of the Minister's decision.

The Supreme Court decision means the release of McKevitt is unlikely to succeed. The release of IRA prisoner Niall Farrell on the same grounds is also set to fail.

Last week, High Court Judge Bernard Barton reserved his judgement in the McKevitt remission case until the Supreme Court had delivered its judgment.

Irish Independent

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