Swatragh man jailed for IRA murder won’t get leave in time for St Patrick’s Day

Seamus Martin Kearney
Seamus Martin Kearney
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A Swatragh man conicted of the IRA murder of an RUC officer from Maghera will not have his legal challenge to temporary prison release arrangements decided in time for St Patrick’s Day.

On Friday, a High Court judge put Seamus Kearney’s judicial review application on hold for a week.

Funeral of John Proctor who was an RUC reservist, who was shot at the Mid Ulster Hospital after visiting his wife who had recently given birth to theit second son.

Funeral of John Proctor who was an RUC reservist, who was shot at the Mid Ulster Hospital after visiting his wife who had recently given birth to theit second son.

Mr Justice Treacy also refuted a press report that the widow of John Proctor had been barred from taking part in the hearing.

Stressing that only permission for a lay person to represent June McMullin was refused, the judge insisted she is entitled to instruct lawyers if she wants to intervene in the case.

He directed that all the papers are to be served on her, adding: “It seems to me she is a person who may well wish to participate.”

Kearney wants the court to quash a Prison Service decision to impose an initial eight-hour limit on his periods outside jail.

On Friday, a High Court judge put Seamus Kearney’s judicial review application on hold for a week.

The 58-year-old, of Gorteade Road was handed a minimum 20-year prison sentence in December 2013 for murdering Mrs McMullin’s husband John Proctor in September 1981.

Earlier this week barrister Michael Forde confirmed the republican was seeking the full 48-hour period in time for St Patrick’s Day.

He regards the holiday as “an important cultural period” and wants to spend time with his close friends and family, according to counsel.

Mr Justice Treacy was also told Kearney hopes to be able to see local GAA club compete in an All-Ireland Senior Football Championship final on that date.

PACEMAKER PRESS INTL. BELFAST. John Proctor (25)  Reserve RUC man shot dead outside the Mid Ulster Hospital after visiting his wife Kathleen in hospital where she was recovering after having their second child. 15/9/81.'851/81/bw

PACEMAKER PRESS INTL. BELFAST. John Proctor (25) Reserve RUC man shot dead outside the Mid Ulster Hospital after visiting his wife Kathleen in hospital where she was recovering after having their second child. 15/9/81.'851/81/bw

A full hearing of the judicial review application was listed for today.

But the case was adjourned for a week following developments about the potential intervention of the victim’s widow and the two-day release period granted to two loyalist prisoners in an “analogous position” to Kearney back in 2000.

The judge pointed out that only a request by a group identified as Justice for Innocent Victims of Terrorism for Mrs McMullin to be represented by an “advocacy officer” had been turned down.

He said it was in just the most exceptional circumstances that a right of audience is granted to a lay person.

Referring to a press report on the case, Mr Justice Treacy added: “Mrs McMullin has not been barred from any hearing.”

Confirming any request for her to be legally represented in the case will be considered, he added: “It seems to me there are a number of issues she may well wish to address the court in respect of.”

The judge also directed the Prison Service to provide full details on pre-release arrangements for the two loyalists and any other relevant cases.

It was also stressed in court that Kearney has an entitlement to temporary release this month.

Stephen McQuitty, for the Prison Service, said: “The decision to grant this period of leave to the applicant in March had absolutely nothing to do with any sporting event or St Patrick’s Day.

“St Patrick’s Day just happened to be one of the days the applicant chose to exercise that right to in the circumstances.”