Northern Ireland

Ex-IRA man refused release for son's holy communion

Gerry McGeough
Image caption Gerry McGeough denied attempting to murder Mr Brush

A former IRA man jailed for the attempted murder of an off-duty UDR soldier has been refused temporary release for his son's first holy communion.

Gerry McGeough, 52, is serving a 20-year sentence for shooting Samuel Brush in 1981.

His lawyers argued that he was an exceptional case who merited compassionate bail.

It was claimed an unidentified SDLP councillor would escort McGeough.

His barrister Sean Devine also claimed McGeough was likely to be released in two years and had achieved "exceptional qualifications and held positions of great responsibility" since the events for which he was jailed last month.

He told the Court of Appeal: "Of all of the activity that took place prior to the Good Friday Agreement this particular applicant's position is fairly unique.

"He benefits from formidable references from the very highest echelons of our society."

Mr Brush, who worked as a postman at the time, was making a delivery near Aughnacloy, County Tyrone, when he was attacked in June 1981.

McGeough, from Dungannon, was convicted of his attempted murder, possession of a firearm and ammunition, and IRA membership.

He is set to appeal both the guilty verdict and sentence imposed.


Mounting his compassionate bail application, Mr Devine described the holy communion as a "huge milestone" for his client's son.

"It would be entirely in his interests if the photograph on the mantelpiece showed the full family picture," he said.

The barrister also claimed it was likely that McGeough would only serve a fraction of his sentence under the terms of the Good Friday Agreement.

He told the court: "Despite the seriousness of the offences he has been convicted of, and despite the awfulness of those offences, the fact remains he is going to be released in two years."

However, Lord Chief Justice Sir Declan Morgan, sitting with Lord Justices Higgins and Coghlin, said McGeough was still "a sentenced prisoner".

"The exceptional thing is he is going to get out in two years despite the fact he's been convicted for the attempted murder of a postman," he added.

"The reason for that is the passage of legislation."

Refusing the application, Sir Declan ruled that the hurdle of "exceptional circumstances" had not been cleared.

He added: "The fact that there is no evidence of harm likely to be caused by him does not deal with the fact that a sentence was imposed on him in relation to matters of retribution and deterrence (for) significant life-threatening activity."

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