Minister denies approach over McKevitt

 

MINISTER FOR Justice Dermot Ahern has denied ever making representations to former minister for justice Michael McDowell on behalf of Real IRA leader Michael McKevitt.

It has emerged that Mr Ahern received correspondence from McKevitt’s wife, Bernadette Sands McKevitt, in 2004 complaining about her husband’s treatment at the time in Portlaoise Prison.

A report in yesterday’s Irish Daily Star on Sundaynewspaper reproduced copies of e-mails from the family that Mr Ahern forwarded to Mr McDowell. The e-mails were obtained by the newspaper under the Freedom of Information Act.

However, a spokesman for Mr Ahern said the Minister had never made representations on behalf of McKevitt. The e-mails were simply sent to Mr McDowell for his comments on the matters raised.

The spokesman said Mr Ahern never asked Mr McDowell to follow any course of action in relation to McKevitt’s situation. He said no representations of any kind were ever made.

The Irish Timesunderstands the McKevitt family, who live in Mr Ahern’s Louth constituency, contacted a number of other deputies and that these also forwarded the e-mails to Mr McDowell.

McKevitt is still in prison where he is serving a 20-year sentence following his conviction for directing terrorism. He is one of a number of men facing a civil action from the family of those killed in the Real IRA bombing of Omagh in 1998.

McKevitt’s wife wrote to Mr Ahern to highlight the conditions he was being kept in. She said because he was involved in a protest at the jail his visiting rights had been withdrawn and she could not bring her children to see him or could not contact him by phone.