Northern Ireland

Michael McKevitt fails to win early release from prison

Real IRA leader Michael McKevitt Image copyright PA
Image caption Real IRA leader Michael McKevitt was convicted of directing terrorism

The High Court in Dublin has dismissed a legal challenge by former Real IRA leader Michael McKevitt for his early release from prison.

The 59-year-old had sought early release over his conviction for directing terrorism.

Last month, a criminal entitled to enhanced remission was released early from prison. That was later rescinded.

Mr McKevitt's lawyers had wanted to use that ruling to get their client released - before it was reversed.

In August, the High Court ruled that a Limerick criminal who had a record of good behaviour in prison and who had completed a number of courses was entitled to enhanced remission on his sentence and as a result was freed from jail.

The Supreme Court later ruled that the High Court had made an error in the Limerick man's case and that he should be returned to prison.

Mr McKevitt's lawyers have indicated they will now attempt to get him released by seeking a judicial review.

His lawyers argued that the High Court decision meant he was entitled to a third remission on his 20-year sentence rather than a quarter.

But the Supreme Court overturned the precedent cited by his legal team when they ruled the Limerick criminal should be sent back to prison.

McKevitt was later granted permission to challenge the latest ruling.

McKevitt, of Beech Park, Blackrock in County Louth, was convicted in 2003 and sentenced to 20 years in prison.

His sentence was backdated to 2001. He was the first person in the Republic of Ireland jailed for directing terrorism.

In a landmark civil case in 2009, the High Court in Belfast ruled McKevitt and three other men were responsible for the 1998 Omagh bomb that killed 29 people and unborn twins.

The other three men were Liam Campbell, Colm Murphy and Seamus Daly.

McKevitt did not face criminal charges in relation to the Omagh bombing.

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