TDs back family in seeking release of Real IRA’s McKevitt

Son says he feels no other prisoner who had major surgery would return to jail so soon

Photograph from February 2008 of Real IRA leader Michael McKevitt. File photograph: Niall Carson/PA Wire

Photograph from February 2008 of Real IRA leader Michael McKevitt. File photograph: Niall Carson/PA Wire

 

The family of jailed dissident republican leader Michael McKevitt has received the support of five TDs, including former Fianna Fáil minister Éamon Ó Cuív, in lobbying for him to be released while recovering from recent surgery.

The five who have lobbied Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald also include Independents Clare Daly, Mick Wallace, Maureen O’Sullivan and Thomas Pringle.

McKevitt, who was one of four men found liable for the 1998 Omagh bombing in a civil action taken by relatives of the dead, had a cancerous kidney removed in May.

Directing terrorism

He is currently in his final year of a 20-year sentence for directing terrorism. He was also convicted of membership of an illegal organisation, the Real IRA.

“Those TDs who have recently campaigned on behalf of my father see this for what it is - a humanitarian issue,” McKevitt’s eldest son, Stephen McKevitt, told The Irish Times.

“And they agree that my father should be afforded the same rights as anybody else.”

He said he did not believe any other prisoner who had undergone major surgery would be returned to jail 5½ weeks later.

In-cell sanitation

His father did not have access to in-cell sanitation in Portlaoise Prison or to the standard of medical care required by those recovering after having an organ removed.

Stephen McKevitt said his father had spent 14½ years “as a political prisoner [and] has never sought any form of special treatment”.

He added his family had been told Ms Fitzgerald had personally intervened to ensure the 65-year-old was returned to prison last week after three months of temporary release.

While McKevitt’s illness has been well-documented, the fact he had been temporarily released for three months was not known before now.