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Last Updated: Tuesday, 19 December 2006, 12:47 GMT
McCabe killers lose freedom bid
Jerry McCabe
Garda Jerry McCabe was killed in County Limerick
Two IRA members jailed for killing Irish police officer Jerry McCabe have lost their bid for freedom.

Pearse McAuley and Jeremiah Sheehy, who are serving 14 and 12 years for his manslaughter had claimed the detention breached their human rights.

Their lawyers argued the government breached their rights under the Irish Constitution, the Good Friday Agreement and the European Convention.

But their application was dismissed at Dublin's High Court on Tuesday.

The judge ruled the two men's detention was not discrimination.

In 1999, McAuley, 40, originally from Strabane, County Tyrone, and Sheehy, 45, from Limerick, pleaded guilty at the non-jury Special Criminal Court to the manslaughter of Detective Garda McCabe during an attempted robbery outside Adare Post Office in June 1996.

In the High Court, the men's lawyers argued that they should be released because they were "qualifying prisoners'' under the terms of the 1998 Good Friday Agreement.

Gerry Adams: "Release was part of agreed sequence"
Gerry Adams said the release was "part of an agreed sequence"

However, in his 64-page judgement, Mr Justice Herbert said it made no difference whether the offence was prior to or subsequent to the Belfast Agreement.

"The importance lies in the fact that those tried and convicted of such terrible crimes prior to the conclusion of the Belfast Agreement had all served long terms of imprisonment prior to being released," the judge said.

"The persons convicted of the unlawful killing of Detective Garda McCabe were seeking to be considered for almost immediate release by invoking the provisions of the Act of 1998."

Garda McCabe's killers were "in an altogether different category to those others who had been convicted of the unlawful killing of members of An Garda Siochana in connection with the troubles in Northern Ireland and who had been released from prison," he added.

The men were to be released as part of a deal to restore Northern Ireland's power-sharing executive in 2003, Sinn Fein said.

At that time, Prime Minister Bertie Ahern said the releases were conditional on the IRA decommissioning and an end of paramilitarism.

However, last year, Irish Foreign Minister Dermot Ahern warned that Sinn Fein would hit a "brick wall" if they again requested their early release.

Adams confirms release 'deal'
11 May 04 |  Northern Ireland
'Plan' to set Garda killers free
07 May 04 |  Northern Ireland
Garda's killers 'must not be freed'
24 Dec 01 |  Northern Ireland

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