Belfast Telegraph

Ex-IRA man 'treated unfairly' over royal pardons

By Alan Erwin

A former IRA man seeking a royal pardon after being jailed for the attempted murder of a unionist councillor 30 years ago has suffered inequality, the High Court heard yesterday.

A former IRA man seeking a royal pardon after being jailed for the attempted murder of a unionist councillor 30 years ago has suffered inequality, the High Court heard yesterday.

Lawyers for Gerry McGeough claimed he was being |treated differently to other so-called political prisoners because he is no longer a member of Sinn Fein.

Samuel Brush, now a DUP councillor in Dungannon, attended court to hear submissions on behalf of the man convicted of trying to kill him. It was argued that the royal prerogative of mercy should be granted to ensure equal treatment with other convicted terrorists who benefited from it.

A judge was told the warrant was used to free others such as James McArdle, the Armagh man responsible for the 1996 London Docklands bombing.

Sean Devine, counsel for McGeough, said: “What seems to be the elephant in the room is this was a political device where political motives effectively seemed to trump the legal framework that was in place.”

He said some consequences of the political process and Good Friday Agreement were “distasteful”.

One of those was that some men convicted of atrocities prior to the peace |accord were being released after as little as two years in jail, the court heard. “There are people who have committed sectarian massacres in the mid-1990s who benefited from the Good Friday Agreement,” Mr Devine said.

He claimed it was “equally distasteful that because the Good Friday Agreement is in the bag and Mr McGeough is no longer a member of Sinn Fein he should receive unequal treatment”.

Judgment in the judicial review application was reserved.

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McGeough (53), from Dungannon, Co Tyrone, is serving a 20-year sentence imposed last year for shooting off-duty UDR man Samuel Brush. Mr Brush, a postman at the time, was attacked in June 1981. McGeough was convicted of his attempted murder, possession of a gun and IRA membership.

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