The State has lost a case in the European Court of Human Rights brought by former senior IRA member Brendan 'Bik' McFarlane.

The court ruled that proceedings taken against him have taken too long and has ordered that he be paid compensation.

Mr McFarlane was commander of the IRA prisoners in the Maze during the 1981 hunger strike and led the mass escape from the prison two years later.

He went on the run and was re-captured in the Netherlands along with fellow Maze escapee Gerry Kelly.

In 1998, Mr McFarlane was charged in the Republic with kidnapping supermarket executive Don Tidey in 1983.

The case finally went ahead two years ago only to collapse when garda evidence was ruled inadmissible.

Mr McFarlane then took a case to the European Court pleading that there was unnecessary delay in the proceedings.

The court in Strasbourg has upheld his complaint and dismissed the Irish Government's claims about domestic judicial solutions.

The State is to pay Mr McFarlane €15,000 in damages including costs.