The Minister for Justice, Michael McDowell, has denied reports that the former INLA leader, Dessie O'Hare, is to be freed from prison by Christmas.

O'Hare, known as the Border Fox, was sentenced to 40 years in prison for kidnapping and assaulting dentist John O'Grady in 1987.

He was granted temporary release from Castlerea Prison at the weekend and attended a course on conflict resolution. He is returing to Castlerea prison tonight.

Reports today suggested that O'Hare would be released from his sentence if he attends another such course.

However, the Minister rejected the report as 'wholly untrue'. He said he has not yet made a decision in the case.