28 December 2003

INLA threat to end ceasefire after O'Hare is denied parole
—by Liam Clarke and Dearbhail McDonald, Sunday Times

THE INLA ceasefire is in doubt following the government's decision to refuse Christmas parole to Dessie O’Hare, Ireland’s most notorious terrorist.

O’Hare, known as the Border Fox, wanted temporary release to spend Christmas with his wife Clare and family. The refusal of Michael McDowell, the justice minister, to allow O’Hare leave has provoked a furious response from the hardline republican terrorist organisation.

A senior member of the Irish Republican Socialist party (IRSP), the INLA’s political wing, warned that the government should be “concerned about the ceasefire in the medium term”. The IRSP is also considering a legal challenge to the decision not to allow O’Hare out.

Eddie McGarrigle, a member of the ruling executive of the IRSP, said the organisation was taking O’Hare’s case as a litmus test of the government’s good faith.

“When we were discussing plans for the INLA ceasefire with the Irish government we made it very clear that Dessie O’Hare and Eddie Hogan (his co-accused who was released three years ago) were high on the list of prisoners we wanted released,” McGarrigle said.

“The Irish government should now be concerned about the INLA ceasefire in the medium term, because if the people who are pushing peace-building efforts and initiatives walk away from the process who is going to take their place? I am considering doing that at the moment.”

O’Hare was sentenced to 40 years in 1988 for kidnapping and mutilating John O’Grady, a dentist. O’Hare hacked off two of O’Grady’s fingers with a chisel in an unsuccessful attempt to secure a IR£1.5m ransom from his family. The INLA, which was undergoing a split, disowned the kidnapping but accepted O’Hare back into the terror group when he was jailed.

He later became the officer commanding the INLA prisoners at Portlaoise, a post he held until he was transferred to Castlerea open prison last year.

Since he was affiliated with a paramilitary group on ceasefire, O’Hare was deemed eligible for early release under the terms of the Good Friday agreement. The government has, however, refused to implement the recommendation in the case of O’Hare, who is regarded as one of the most ruthless and volatile individuals to emerge during the Troubles.

His willingness to mutilate his victims is seen as evidence of psychotic tendencies. The IRSP points out that loyalists who attacked and tortured Catholics, including members of the Shankill Butcher gang, have been been freed in Northern Ireland.

In recent years O’Hare has been carving a new image for himself. His character appeared to change after he spent four years in the basement of Portlaoise prison speaking to nobody and becoming adept at yoga. When he emerged from this self-imposed retreat from prison society he became associated with the Glencree Centre for Peace and Reconciliation. He has attended a conference there and has offered to meet his victims.

McGarrigle said that the IRSP blamed McDowell and the Progressive Democrat party for the failure to release O’Hare.

“Fianna Fail people have told us the PDs are the problem,” said McGarrigle. “McDowell made the release of prisoners commission send Dessie to five psychoanalysts. Dessie passed the tests with flying colours but he still hasn’t been released.”

Comments: Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?