Saturday 20 January 2018

McKevitt is a 
no-show as he awaits verdict on early release

Michael McKevitt
Michael McKevitt
Nicola Anderson

Nicola Anderson

The alleged leader of the Real IRA Michael McKevitt must wait another week at least to find out if he is to be released from jail early.

McKevitt, who is serving a 20-year sentence for membership of the Real IRA, will not be told his fate until until the Supreme Court on Friday hears a separate appeal against the early release of prisoners by the High Court.

Neither McKevitt nor his wife Bernadette Sands McKevitt were in court yesterday, though Ms Sands McKevitt had been present the previous day.

Mr Justice Bernard Barton was expected to hand down a judgment on whether McKevitt was in lawful or unlawful custody at Portlaoise Prison and whether he was entitled to early release.

However, the judge told legal teams in the case that he would be reserving his decision until after the Supreme Court hearing.

Counsel for McKevitt, Michael O'Higgins, asked the judge to "discharge the court's duty and obligation to hear a bail application by sitting later today if that's what is required."

However, he refused the application and later said he would be doing so until after Friday's hearing of an almost identical appeal before the Supreme Court - a case in which the prisoner's release had earlier been ordered by the High Court and which had been appealed by the State.

The judge said he was prepared to return from holiday next week to deal with the matter following the Supreme Court hearing. He would act immediately following the Supreme Court decision.

Diarmaid McGuinness, counsel for the State, said he had been given firm instructions to oppose bail for McKevitt and said the court should not be swayed by previous temporary releases which had occurred on humanitarian grounds.

Judge Barton will return from holidays early on Wednesday to allow for a hearing of any submissions in the wake of the separate Supreme Court judgment.

McKevitt is seeking a one-third enhanced remission of a 20-year sentence imposed in August 2003 after he had been convicted in the Special Criminal Court of directing a terrorist organisation and of being a member of the Real IRA.

Irish Independent

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