Release of Castlerea 4 part of deal - Ahern
Bertie Ahern has accepted that four Provisional IRA men still
held in Castlerea prison should be released as part of a
comprehensive deal in the peace process.
The men should have qualified for release under the terms of the
1998 Good Friday Agreement, but were denied amid controversy
over their role in the death of Garda Jerry McCabe in 1996.
Pearse McAuley, Jeremiah Sheehy, Kevin Walsh and Michael
O'Neill, who are serving between 11 and 14 years for
manslaughter. They are the only members of the Provisional IRA
convicted prior to the signing of the Good Friday Agreement to
remain behind bars, North or South of the border.
A legal challenge to the imprisonment of the four earlier this
year was rejected by the Irish courts. The Dublin government has
never given a reason for their continued incarceration.
A fifth man, John Quinn, was released only after serving his
Taoiseach Bertie Ahern said on Wednesday the goverment had "no
option" but to release the men, known as the Castlerea 4. Mr
Ahern told the Dublin parliament that Sinn Fein had made it
clear in recent negotiations that without the men's release
there would be no deal.
The widow of Garda McCabe, Mrs Ann McCabe, said that the four
should not qualify for release because they were "common
Reading a letter on Irish from the former minister for justice,
she said it stated that there was "no question of granting early
release to those concerned, either under the terms of the Good
Friday Agreement or, for that matter, on any other basis
It is understood the Mccabe family is planning a legal challenge
against any move to release the four.