The widow of a young police officer murdered after visiting his newborn son in hospital has said she is sickened that his killer has made a legal bid to be released from prison for St Patrick's Day.
Convicted killer Seamus Kearney issued High Court proceedings yesterday after previously failing to secure home leave to spend the St Valentine's weekend with his partner.
He wants a judge to quash a Prison Service decision to impose an eight-hour limit on his periods outside jail. The Derry man's lawyers revealed he wants a 48-hour release next week to celebrate St Patrick's Day and to see the GAA club he supports, Slaughtneil, take part in an All-Ireland final.
Kearney (58) of Gorteade Road in Maghera, was handed a minimum 20-year prison sentence in December 2013 for murdering John Proctor in September 1981.
The victim, a 25-year-old RUC Reserve Constable, was shot dead by the IRA minutes after going to see his wife June and newborn child Johnnie at the Mid Ulster Hospital in Magherafelt.
Granting leave to seek a judicial review, Mr Justice Treacy yesterday fixed the case for a full hearing this Friday.
Mr Proctor's widow June McMullin, who has since remarried, last night said she felt sick at the news, having only been told of the developments by this newspaper. She said Kearney had ruined her life and those of their family.
"I'm supposed to be told every time he is out and I haven't been told of any of this," she said. "It's not good enough, it stinks.
"I am disgusted there is even a chance of him getting out to celebrate St Patrick's Day and go to a football match.
"How could a murderer even be considered for this? What a complete joke. We never got to go to any matches with John. Kearney has ruined our lives altogether. He has left a huge gap in our lives which can never be filled."
DUP victims' spokesman Jeffrey Donaldson described Kearney's bid as "disgusting".
"It beggars belief this situation is even being contemplated," the MP said. "Young Johnnie will never be able to go to a football match with his dad, will never be able to enjoy the things fathers and sons do together. And yet here we have somebody convicted of the murder of a man going to visit his wife having given birth demanding the right to attend a GAA match for recreational purposes. The insensitivity of this is just unbelievable and you would hope there would be some semblance of humanity here that would recognise the hurt that is caused to victims by this.
"I find it disgusting that someone would act in this way, that shows no sensitivity to Mr Proctor's widow or son."
Under the terms of the Good Friday Agreement, Kearney is expected to serve just two years of his sentence behind bars.
With his release from Maghaberry due to take place in November, efforts were made to sort out a programme of prior temporary home leaves.
Barrister Michael Forde claimed prison authorities unlawfully decided to initially restrict these periods to just eight hours.
Other inmates are able to get out for two days on the scheme, it was argued. Mr Forde told how Kearney first wanted released over a weekend last month.
"That was for 48 hours over Valentine's Day to spend time with his wife," he said.
Following submissions Mr Justice Treacy decided the case has enough merit to progress to a full hearing on Friday.