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Former Real IRA leader Michael McKevitt dies following illness


Former Real IRA leader Michael McKevitt (Niall Carson/PA)

Former Real IRA leader Michael McKevitt (Niall Carson/PA)

Former Real IRA leader Michael McKevitt (Niall Carson/PA)

Former Real IRA leader Michael McKevitt, one of four men found liable in civil court for the 1998 Omagh bombing, has died following an illness.

He was suffering from terminal cancer and in November 2019 it was reported that he was critically ill in Beaumont Hospital, Dublin. It emerged on Saturday afternoon that the 71-year-old republican had passed away.

The dissident group Republican Network for Unity announced the news on social media.

Originally from Co Louth, McKevitt joined the Provisional IRA at the outbreak of the Troubles and became a senior figure, before quitting in protest at the ceasefires in 1997.

He was married to Bernadette Sands McKevitt, sister of IRA hunger striker Bobby Sands.

McKevitt later established the dissident Republican group the Real IRA, who carried out the Omagh bombing just four months after the signing of the Good Friday Agreement. The attack claimed the lives of 29 people, including a woman pregnant with twins.

Despite denying involvement, a judge in a 2009 civil case at Belfast Crown Court ruled that McKevitt, Liam Campbell, Colm Murphy and Seamus Daly were all liable for the atrocity, ordering them to pay £1.6m in damages.

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McKevitt and Campbell took their case to the European Court of Human Rights, arguing the civil action had been unfair, but seven judges unanimously rejection their cases.

In August 2003 McKevitt was found guilty of directing terrorism and membership of an illegal organisation.

He was granted temporary release from prison in March 2015 to have treatment for a cancerous growth on his kidney and had the kidney removed the following May.

On Easter Sunday 2016, McKevitt was formally released from prison on Easter Sunday.

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