Dessie O'Hare, who is serving 40 years for the kidnapping of dentist John O'Grady, has launched a new High Court action to gain his freedom.

O'Hare claims he had a legitimate expectation that he would be released in 2000 when he was declared a qualifying prisoner under the terms of the Belfast Agreement, or at the latest by July 2003 when the Minister for Justice had indicated an appropriate pre-release programme would be put in place for him.

He claims the failure to release him breaches his rights to fair procedures and natural and constitutional justice, and that he has been unlawfully detained since November 2000.

The High Court also heard today that a number of psychiatric and psychological assessments carried out on him, including by Dr Harry Kennedy, the Director of the Central Mental Hospital, have shown no evidence of mental illness, psychosis or personality disorder.

He was granted leave today to bring judicial review proceedings. He is seeking a number of orders, including a declaration that he is unlawfully detained and an order that he be released forthwith.

O'Hare was jailed for 40 years in 1987 for the kidnapping and assault of Dr John O'Grady. At previous hearings he described himself as a member of the INLA and Officer Commanding the INLA group in Portlaoise Prison. He is currently detained in Castlerea Prison. He has said he totally supports the recognised INLA ceasefire.

O'Hare was not in court for today's application.