Judgment in McKevitt case reserved until tomorrow

Tuesday 19 August 2014 22.21
Michael McKevitt has sought a one-third enhanced remission of a 20-year sentence
Michael McKevitt has sought a one-third enhanced remission of a 20-year sentence

Judgment in convicted Real IRA prisoner Michael McKevitt's case has been reserved until tomorrow.

Earlier today, the High Court had heard that convicted Real IRA prisoner Michael McKevitt should be released immediately.

McKevitt's lawyers have argued that he is entitled to enhanced one-third remission of his 20-year sentence which would have entitled him to be released last month rather than March of next year.

Senior Counsel Michael O'Higgins said McKevitt had an impressive array of courses and certificates completed while in Portlaoise Prison.

And he had engaged in prison work including maintenance of the landing, good safety and health and safety.

On any evaluation, he scores very highly, Mr O'Higgins said, and has fulfilled the criteria of engaging with supervised structured prison activities which lead to enhanced remission.

Mr O'Higgins said McKevitt did not have addiction or psychological issues.

He told the court that McKevitt’s protestation of innocence and segregation in the Republican wing of Portlaoise Prison did not remove his entitlement to enhanced remission.

Lawyers for the Minister for Justice are opposing the application.

SC Diarmaid McGuinness said the risk of re-offending had to be considered and he said it could not be said that McKevitt would not re-offend.

He said McKevitt did not admit he was an offender and had knowingly affiliated himself with the Republican wing in the prison.

He also said McKevitt had not engaged with the Probation Services.

McKevitt was jailed for 20 years in August 2003 after being convicted at the Special Criminal Court of directing a terrorist organisation and of being a Real IRA member.

His sentence was backdated to 2001.

Mr O'Higgins has argued that two recent judgments on the early release of IRA prisoners also applied to McKevitt.

In one of these, earlier this month Mr Justice Gerard Hogan ordered the immediate release of IRA prisoner Niall Farrell on the grounds he had not been given proper consideration by the prison authorities for a one-third remission of sentence.

This applied where he had been of good conduct and had engaged in activities to prepare him for release and re-integration into society.