15 March 2006

Dissident republican under guard in jail

Daily Ireland

by Ciarán Barnes

A dissident republican prisoner being sued by the relatives of those killed in the Omagh bombing is being kept under guard following an outbreak of violence at Portlaoise Prison.
Séamus McKenna (50) was involved in a clash with another dissident republican inmate last Thursday evening.
The pair began fighting on the jail’s E4 landing after the other inmate, who is understood to have been drunk, called Mr McKenna a “tout”. The E4 landing houses prisoners connected to the Real IRA and a faction calling itself the Concerned Group for Republican Prisoners, which is made up of former Continuity IRA members.
A prison source said the dispute between Mr McKenna and his rival had been over funds.
“At one time, both men had been aligned to the CGRP but, in recent weeks, there has been tension between the various groupings in the jail,” he said.
“There are question marks over the money that the CGRP collects, supposedly on behalf of all republican prisoners.
“The CGRP is headed by an ex-Irish National Liberation Army prisoner and their real intention is to call a total ceasefire and impose it on all republican groupings.”
The inmate who fought Mr McKenna was taken to the prison hospital for treatment. The incident happened just before evening lock-up when prisoners mingle on the landing.
“The word ‘tout’ was used, and a man was struck and fell and hit his head,” added the prison source.
“An emergency was declared and the prison went on a state of alert. The man was treated in hospital and Séamy McKenna was locked up as a result.”
No one from the Irish Prison Service was available for comment.
Dundalk man Mr McKenna is serving a six-year sentence for possessing explosives.
He is one of five men being sued in a landmark £10 million (€14 million) civil action by relatives of the Omagh bombing victims.
The others are Liam Campbell, Séamus Daly, Michael McKevitt and Colm Murphy.

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