Belfast Telegraph

Murder bid man: SF MP’s plea for leniency rapped

By Suzanne Breen

Sinn Fein has defended Stormont minister Michelle Gildernew for providing a character reference for a republican convicted of attempting to murder a UDR man 30 years ago.

The reference stating that Gerry McGeough presents no threat to the peace process, along with other mitigating factors, should lead to a lenient sentence, a barrister for the Tyrone republican told Belfast Crown Court yesterday.

The prosecution urged that he receive a 25-year sentence for attempting to kill Sammy Brush in 1981.

McGeough (52), a former Sinn Fein ard comhairle member who has accused the party of abandoning republicanism, last month became the first republican to be convicted of an historical crime since the Good Friday Agreement.

Traditional Unionist Voice (TUV) said Ms Gildernew was not fit to hold office and should resign: “Nobody should be surprised by her actions given the pedigree of some of those who sit at the cabinet table,” Fermanagh and South Tyrone representative Alex Elliot said. But a Sinn Fein spokesman said: “Michelle Gildernew is Gerry McGeough’s MP.

“He asked for a reference and she provided it.”

The party has been criticised at grassroots level in Tyrone for not doing enough for McGeough.

Prosecuting counsel, David McDowell, told Mr Justice Stephens that McGeough’s sentence should reflect the fact that the carefully planned IRA attack took place as Mr Brush, a part-time postman, was carrying out a public duty delivering mail.

He said the victim still suffered physical and psychological scars and had lived in fear of his life in Tyrone for 30 years. The prosecution accepted McGeough no longer posed a security threat himself, but said a heavy sentence would deter those dissidents who did. Sentencing will take place next week.

background

McGeough was convicted of attempting to murder part-time UDR man Samuel Brush in June 1981. During his trial the court heard that Mr Brush was wounded by two gunmen after he had delivered a letter but that body armour he wore under his postal uniform saved his life. Brush fired at his attackers, wounding McGeough, who was treated in Monaghan Hospital.

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