Belfast Telegraph

Prisoner escape to be investigated

Irish Justice Minister Alan Shatter has ordered an investigation into how a Garda killer caught on the run in Northern Ireland escaped from prison.

Martin McDermott, 26, was arrested in the Shantallow area of Derry by the Police Service of Northern Ireland.

Jailed for seven years last July for the manslaughter of Garda Gary McLoughlin, McDermott, from Raphoe in Co Donegal, absconded from Loughan House, an open low-security prison in Blacklion, Co Cavan.

The escaped prisoner was being detained at Strand Road police station in Derry for questioning about "criminal offences", the PSNI said. It is expected gardai will now apply for a European arrest warrant to have McDermott returned to the Republic, unless he agrees to surrender himself.

It is possible he could fight any extradition request through the courts in Northern Ireland.

A massive cross-border manhunt was launched when McDermott, who was eight months into his sentence, was found to be missing during a headcount at Loughan House at 5pm on Thursday. The jail is close to the border with Northern Ireland. Descriptions of the prisoner had been issued to all garda stations, while ports and airports on both sides of the border were put on alert.

Calls have been made for Mr Shatter to launch a full inquiry into the escape.

Dara Calleary, Fianna Fail's justice spokesman, described the break-out as "utterly disgraceful". He said: "The Minister for Justice must initiate an immediate investigation and allow a preliminary report to be presented to the Dail next week."

Mr Shatter has ordered a full report from Michael Donnellan, director general of the Irish Prison Service. A spokesman said: "The report will cover the full details as to how and why (McDermott) was transferred from a closed prison to an open centre and the circumstances surrounding his absconding from Loughan House."

The PSNI confirmed a 26-year-old man is due to appear at Derry Magistrates' Court on Saturday. He has been charged with criminal damage, three counts of assault on police and resisting arrest and disorderly behaviour. "As is normal procedure, all charges will be reviewed by the Public Prosecution Service," a PSNI spokesman said.

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