Prisoner body: ‘We will not release terms of mass murderer Sean Kelly’s licence’

Shankill bomber Sean Kelly

Shankill bomber Sean Kelly

The body which oversees the early release of paramilitary prisoners says it will not reveal the terms of Sean Kelly’s licence, after the multiple murderer was once again arrested by the PSNI.

There were demands from unionists on Thursday for the IRA man’s licence to be revoked and for him to be returned to jail after it emerged he had been held by police investigating the murder of Conor McKee in Belfast in January.

Kelly was one of the two-man team who carried out the Shankill bombing in 1993, which killed nine people in a fish shop – as well as fellow bomber Thomas Begley – when their device exploded prematurely.

Kelly was given nine life sentences for his role in the bloodbath, but was released early in 2000.

He was jailed again in 2005 for about a month by the Secretary of State (who was then Peter Hain), amid allegations he was involved in paramilitary activity.

He was arrested in February 2013 for questioning in relation to a punishment-type shooting, and not charged.

He was arrested again in August 2015 and quizzed in the wake of the killing of ex-IRA man Kevin McGuigan, before being released without charge.

The latest arrest is part of the investigation into the gun murder of Mr McKee, aged 31, who was found dead at home off the Oldpark Road, north Belfast, on January 7.

McKee had been on bail for suspected drugs offences at the time, and his funeral was told he had battled drug use from an early age.

Both TUV leader Jim Allister and loyalist victims’ figure Willie Frazer called for this latest arrest to lead to the revokation of Kelly’s licence.

Independent unionist Belfast councillor Ruth Patterson demanded “clarity” around what exactly the terms of his licence are, and DUP MP Nigel Dodds said he would write to the Secretary of State asking why he remains free “even though regular suspicion falls on Sean Kelly following brutal murders”.

When the News Letter tried to find out the terms of his licence, the Department of Justice said that it was a Northern Ireland Office matter, which in turn referred the paper to the Sentence Review Commissioners’ Secretariat.

This is based at Belfast’s Laganside court complex, and its job is to “oversee and regulate the early release of certain prisoners convicted during the period of civil unrest”.

Asked what conditions are imposed on Kelly, and how long his licence lasts, a spokeswoman said only that the commissioners “don’t comment on any specific case”.

Gerald Solinas, who was yesterday helping organising a mass parade up the Shankill Road to mark 1,000 days of the Twaddell protest, said: “This man seems to be getting arrested on a monthly basis!

“He’s not getting arrested for being a good citizen.”

While he was not charged on previous occasions, Mr Solinas added that “he must be running about in some criminal circles... so why isn’t his licence revoked?”

Kelly, 42, was released without charge, police said on Friday morning.