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Thursday, November 4, 1999 Published at 17:58 GMT

UK: Northern Ireland

Fury as INLA killer gets parole

Billy Wright was murdered by the INLA

Unionists have criticised a decision to grant home leave to a republican prisoner jailed for killing a loyalist paramilitary leader in Northern Ireland.

Christopher McWilliams who received a life sentence for the murder of Loyalist Volunteer Force leader Billy Wright, married his girlfriend last Saturday during temporary leave from the Maze prison.

Wright was shot dead in the Maze by the republican Irish National Liberation Army (INLA) as he sat in a prison van in December 1997.

John Kennaway and John Glennon, who were also convicted of the murder and having guns inside the jail, were among the guests at the wedding in Newry, Co Down.

A spokesman for the Northern Ireland Prison Service confirmed that all prisoners nearing the end of their sentence were entitled to between 10 and 30 days parole a year.

Seven days parole

It is understood McWilliams, from west Belfast, was granted seven days parole last Tuesday and has now returned to the prison.

McWilliams and his fellow INLA men qualify for early release under the terms of the Good Friday Agreement and are expected to be released by next June.

But the news of their parole has prompted unionist politicians in the province to launch a fresh attack on the early release scheme.

[ image: Jeffrey Donaldson: Called for public inquiry]
Jeffrey Donaldson: Called for public inquiry
Jeffrey Donaldson of the Ulster Unionist Party said: "I just wonder if any account is taken into the impact these early releases have on the victims of terrorist violence?"

Mr Donaldson who is an anti-agreement MP, has backed calls for a public inquiry into Wright's murder.

He added: "This latest episode is the latest insult to the public in terms of the way in which this whole case has been handled."

'Farcical nature of programme'

Deputy leader of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) Peter Robinson said: "It just emphasises the farcical nature of the early release programme that somebody who carries out a murder in prison two years ago, will be out in another year.

"Already in this community there is the very strong belief that there was government involvement in the killing of Billy Wright."

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