McKevitt does not deserve early release from prison

News Letter editorial
News Letter editorial

When Michael McKeviit was jailed in 2003 for directing terrorism, he was given the modest sentence of 20 years in prison.

The dissident republican terrorist godfather was not in that case found to be culpable for the Omagh bomb massacre but it was clear that he was pivotal in the Real IRA that was behind the attack.

McKevitt was later found to be responsible for the atrocity in a civil case.

Now, some Republic of Ireland politicians are calling for his release from prison in Portlaoise on compassionate grounds, due to his treatment for a cancerous kidney.

McKevitt’s son, without apparent irony, said that his father’s supporters agree that he “should be afforded the same rights as anybody else”.

Which anybody is he referring to?

It cannot include the 29 people or unborn twins who were slaughtered at Omagh, or any of the other people who were denied so much as the right to stay alive by the brutal organisation in which his father was a central player.

McKevitt is a despicable man: an unrepentant, dedicated advocate of sectarian murder and mayhem who in his time caused carnage and heartbreak.

He wasn’t even prepared to give it all up along with his Provisional colleagues in the 1990s.

Given that prison sentences on both sides of the border are typically liable to be much longer than time actually served, due to remission, McKevitt should have been sentenced to 50 years, perhaps more.

He doesn’t deserve to spend another free day in his life, but he will do so if he lives longer than the remaining eight years of his sentence.

We very much hope that the authorities in the Republic dismiss this bid out of hand, regardless of his health.

We also hope that no other politicians give credence to the foolish calls for his release.