FIONA GARTLAND
Irish Times
6 April 2012

FIANNA FÁIL deputy Éamon Ó Cuív added his voice to a campaign for the release of Northern Ireland prisoner Gerry McGeough at a press conference in Dublin yesterday.

McGeough (53), from Tyrone, is serving 20 years at Maghaberry prison after being found guilty of possession of firearms, IRA membership and injuring an Ulster Defence Regiment member in 1981.

The father of four was arrested leaving a count centre in Omagh in 2007, having stood as an independent republican candidate in the Northern Ireland Assembly elections. He stood trial last year.

Supporters question the motivation behind his arrest in 2007, given that he had been living in Northern Ireland since 1996. They say he was stopped at checkpoints many times, called for jury service on two occasions and made numerous appearances on television and radio programmes in advance of his arrest.

Campaigners have also raised concerns about McGeough’s health. He has had five stents inserted after a series of heart attacks, and a prison medic has said that, due to his health, he should not be in prison, they said.

Mr Ó Cuív spoke yesterday at a press conference with the Gerry McGeough Justice Campaign, campaigner Fr Seán McManus and members of McGeough’s family. He said part of the Weston Park agreement signed in 2001 between the British and Irish governments dealt with the issue of outstanding prosecutions It accepted that prosecutions for offences that would benefit from the early-release scheme should not be pursued.

“Unfortunately this legislation was never passed in Westminster and the matter has been left in abeyance,” Mr Ó Cuív said. “However, I believe that the agreement should still be implemented.”

He said the event involved happened 31 years ago. Mr McGeough had always supported the peace process. He had returned to Ireland, gone to Trinity College Dublin and “lived and worked peacefully”.

“All we are asking for is for the Weston Park agreement to be acted on and for Gerry to be released immediately,” Mr Ó Cuív said.

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