Sunday Life

Bomb plotter loses 'communion' case

By Ciaran Mcguigan
23 January 2005

A dissident republican, behind bars on explosives charges, lost his legal challenge over a decision to keep him locked up during his daughter's First Communion.

A case taken by Real IRA prisoner, John Swift, to overturn the decision to refuse him leave from jail for the service, was thrown out of the High Court, earlier this month.

The Prison Service's original decision, backed up later by Secretary of State, Paul Murphy, meant that Swift - serving 13 years for his part in a Poppy Day plot to launch a mortar attack - remained behind bars, during his daughter's service, last May.

Mr Justice Girvan, dismissing Swift's challenge of that decision in the High Court - more than six months after the communion service had taken place - said that it would have been clear to Swift that he was a security risk.

Said Mr Justice Girvan: "The nature of the crime, the fact that it was a dissident IRA crime, the fact that the applicant was aligned to the Real IRA, and that he would present a security risk, because of the background to the crime, and his connection with the Real IRA, were all self-evident facts, of which the applicant was aware.

"This is not a case of the Prison Service relying on information of a security risk of which the applicant might not be aware."

Swift was jailed for 13 years, in May, 2002, after being caught red-handed on his way to launch a rocket attack on Remembrance Day, two years earlier.

The Newtownbutler man was one of three Real IRA men, who were observed as they transported a Mk 15 'barrack-buster' mortar, along the main cross-border Dublin to Enniskillen road.

In January, last year, Swift applied for leave to attend the First Communion service, on May 29.

When the Prison Service ruled that his application did not fall under the terms of its compassionate temporary release scheme, Swift appealed to the Secretary of State, Paul Murphy.

Mr Murphy also refused, after Swift was deemed a high security risk, prompting him to apply for leave for a Judicial Review into the decision.


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