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Politicians kept Macarthur in jail -- ex-governor

KILLER Malcolm Macarthur's release from prison may have been delayed because politicians did not want to be seen as soft on crime, says the former governor of Mountjoy Prison.

Macarthur (66) was granted temporary release from Shelton Abbey on Monday after serving 29 years for the murder of nurse Bridie Gargan in Phoenix Park in 1982.

He was also charged with the shooting of Co Offaly farmer Donal Dunne, but that case was not tried.


Former Mountjoy governor John Lonergan has said Macarthur's release was "a positive step" and that it may have happened sooner were it not for political pressure.

"Malcolm Macarthur had a very high profile from day one," said Mr Lonergan.

"Personally, I have always had a difficulty that, in Ireland, it is still very much a political decision whether somebody is released or not.

"In many other countries, it is a judicial responsibility and they put a tariff, which is a far fairer system," he added.

Macarthur's 29-year sentence compares to the average 17.5 years for murder in Ireland.

The Irish Penal Reform Trust (IPRT) has repeated calls for an independent Parole Board.

"The easy way to improve the system is to set up a fully independent body with the necessary expertise, making decisions fully removed from political controversy," said IPRT director Liam Herrick.

Meanwhile, Justice Minister Alan Shatter has issued a statement about reports of the imminent release of Catherine Nevin, jailed 12 years ago for the killing of her husband Tom in Jack White's pub.

The Department of Justice said: "As regards the case of Catherine Nevin, the Minister has not made any decision on granting temporary release. Recommendations have been made concerning attendance on an educational course."

The statement added that a life-sentenced prisoner "is eligible for review by the Parole Board after serving seven years".

"Each case is considered on its individual merits and the Board take into account the full range of circumstances including the nature and gravity of the offence, the potential threat to safety, the risk of reoffending, the conduct of the prisoner and the prisoner's engagement with the range of services on offer in the prison before making a recommendation to the Minister, who then has the final decision," it added.