The first republican jailed for historical crimes since the Good Friday Agreement will be released on Tuesday after serving less than two years behind bars.
Gerry McGeough, a former Sinn Fein ard comhairle member, was convicted in February 2011 of attempting to murder UDR man Sammy Brush 30 years earlier.
McGeough (54) will walk free from Maghaberry jail on Tuesday. Republicans are holding a controversial ‘welcome home party’ for the ex-IRA man on Friday, to be addressed by former Noraid publicity director Martin Galvin.
Sammy Brush, now a DUP councillor, on Sunday night denounced McGeough’s release and said he was “horrified that some people see it as a cause for celebration”.
He said: “It beggars belief that Gerry McGeough has been released after serving less than a tenth of his sentence for IRA membership and trying to murder me. He has never shown any remorse. The Good Friday Agreement disgracefully allows such people to be released after less than two years. That is clearly about buying off terrorists rather than securing justice for victims.”
Mr Brush, a part-time postman, was shot by two IRA gunmen as he delivered mail near Aughnacloy, Co Tyrone. He returned fire, wounding McGeough. He said it was “sickening” that a party celebrating the ex-IRA man’s release would occur “just a few miles” from his home. “It’s another way of rubbing my nose in it,” he added.
The function will be held at Quinn’s Corner in Dungannon. Ex-Noraid publicity director Martin Galvin, who has flown over from New York to speak, denied it was directed against Mr Brush. He said: “Gerry McGeough is seen by many nationalists as a victim of British injustice. The British soldiers who shot dead 14 unarmed civilians on Bloody Sunday have never been charged yet the Crown showed no hesitation in moving against this respected republican on decades-old charges.”
Mr Brush said he would be asking the authorities to disclose the conditions of the licence on which McGeough was freed.
Gerry McGeough who tried to kill Sammy Brush, left Sinn Fein over its ‘liberal’ views on social issues and ‘weak’ position on British withdrawal. He joined the IRA’s East Tyrone brigade in 1975 at 16. He was imprisoned in Germany for attacks on the British Army and served three years in jail in the US for overseeing a huge IRA gun-smuggling operation.