A man accused of posting offensive internet comments about murdered PSNI officer Ronan Kerr is the son of a former Sinn Fein councillor, it has been revealed.
Kevin Patrick Meehan has appeared before Dungannon Magistrates Court charged with distributing written material intended to incite hatred.
The charge is understood to refer to a comment on the social networking site Facebook in which Meehan is alleged to have stated that Mr Kerr’s death was “great news”.
The 45-year-old is the son of Martin Meehan, a former IRA commander who also served on Antrim Borough Council until his death in 2007.
Kevin Meehan, from the Cookstown area, is accused of making the comments on April 2 — the same day Mr Kerr was killed by a booby-trap bomb which exploded under his car as he left for work.
He was arrested in the town last month.
Details of the alleged offence were not given in court, however the comment was still visible on Meehan’s Facebook profile last night.
On his page, Meehan had posted a link to a news report of Mr Kerr’s death. Underneath, he comments: “Great news ‘YEAH HAAAAAA’.”
Meehan was dressed in a dark grey jacket and beige open-neck shirt and trousers during his brief appearance in court yesterday.
He spoke only to confirm he understood the charge, replying: “I do, yeah”.
A detective constable said he believed he could connect the accused to the charge.
District Judge Bonita Boyd adjourned the matter until next month.
Meehan declined to speak to the Belfast Telegraph as he left the courthouse.
His father, Martin, was the first person to be convicted of membership of the Provisional IRA and spent 18 years in prison.
Following his release in 1994, he became a leading member of Sinn Fein, serving on the party’s Ard Comhairle, and was also chairman of Saoirse, which campaigned for the release of prisoners.
Mr Meehan unsuccessfully ran for the South Antrim seat in the 1998 Assembly elections and also stood as a candidate in the 2001 Westminster poll.
In 2001 he was elected as a member of Antrim council.
He died in 2007 from a suspected heart attack.
Constable Kerr (25) was only weeks out of training when he was killed in the dissident republican attack outside his home in Omagh, Co Tyrone.
The bomb was made up of 500g of high explosives and was planted just yards from the route of a half-marathon taking place in the town.
In the wake of his murder, Constable Kerr’s mother, Nuala, won praise for her heartfelt plea to young Catholics not to be put off from joining the PSNI.
At his funeral in Beragh, the GAA and PSNI held an unprecedented joint guard of honour as the coffin was carried into the chapel.
Political leaders from across Ireland including First Minister Peter Robinson attended the service.