11 August 2005

‘Free O’Hare now’

Daily Ireland

Conor McMorrow

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Monsignor Denis Faul has called for the immediate release of INLA prisoner Dessie O’Hare from Castlerea prison in Roscommon.
Mr O’Hare, who was known as the Border Fox, was given a 40-year prison sentence in April 1988 for offences including the kidnapping and mutilation of Dublin dentist John O’Grady. The sentence was the longest in the history of the Republic for any offence other than capital murder.
Last week revealed that a number of senior figures in the Catholic Church had thrown their weight behind the campaign for Mr O’Hare’s release.
Now Monsignor Faul, who has visited O’Hare in prison on a number of occasions, has spoken out, stating his belief that O’Hare had served enough time and should be released.
“The man has served his sentence and I don’t believe that he should be left in jail,” said Msgr Faul.
“There are so many people that are part of the forgotten wreckage of the Troubles and while Dessie O’Hare is not so much forgotten, he is part of that wreckage.”
He added that Dessie O’Hare posed no threat to people in Ireland.
“People are sent to jail to be punished and get rehabilitated before their release, if they don’t pose any threat to people outside,” he said.
“In my opinion Dessie O’Hare has been rehabilitated, has served his punishment and would not pose any threat to people when he gets out, so any further detention of Dessie O’Hare would be purely vindictive. He should be released soon.”
Msgr Faul also criticised the way certain sections of the media have treated Mr O’Hare’s case.
“The Dublin media should leave him alone and in my view he should be left to get on with his life along with his wife and two children,” said the parish priest of Carrickmore, Co Tyrone.
“The man has been in jail for all these years and the prison authorities are in favour of his release. There are other clergymen that have been to visit him and they also believe that he should be released.”
Msgr Faul added: “Family circumstances and the fact that his wife has been ill means that he should be allowed out.”
From Keady, Co Armagh Mr O’Hare was a member of the IRA before defecting to the INLA.
In December 2002 he was transferred from the Midlands Prison in Portlaoise, Co Laois to the lower security Castlerea Prison in Co Roscommon, and put on a pre-release programme. He has been freed on 15 to 20 temporary paroles over the past three years as part of that programme.
Eddie McGarrigle, a director of Teach na Fáilte, a group that provides support for republican socialist ex-prisoners and their families, has been spearheading the campaign to have Mr O’Hare released.
Mr McGarrigle, who is also on the Ard Comhairle of the Irish Republican Socialist Party (IRSP), said: “The background to the situation is that the Prison Service have basically washed their hands of Dessie and say that it is up to Michael McDowell when he gets released.
“Michael McDowell agreed to release Dessie in April and the prison service is now saying that the decision lies with the minister.”
Mr McGarrigle, who has been working closely with Mr O’Hare’s family as part of the campaign to have him released, described their anguish as they await Mr O’Hare’s release.
“They have been put under serious mental torture and mental anguish as they have been waiting for three years for his release,” he added.
No-one from the Department of Justice was available for comment yesterday.

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