Belfast Telegraph

Three dissidents are freed from Portlaoise Prison

By Staff Reporter

Three dissident republicans convicted of trying to buy weapons and explosives walked free from Portlaoise Prison in the Republic last night.

Irish High Court judge Mr Justice Gerard Hogan ordered the men be released after finding the court lacked the power to adapt defective warrants they were held on. The decision saw Fintan O'Farrell and Declan Rafferty, both from Carlingford, and Michael McDonald, from Dundalk, freed after 13 years in custody.

They were arrested by Slovak police in July 2001 after meeting two undercover British agents posing as Iraqi arms dealers.

They were extradited to England, where they admitted terrorism charges and were sentenced to 28 years before being transferred to Portlaoise.

Their lawyers sought a review of their detention and last month Mr Justice Hogan ruled the warrants detaining them were defective on grounds that the Irish legal system allows prisoners to apply for a 25% remission on sentences.

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