09 May 2006

Border Fox is lying low amid fears for his life

Irish Independent

'BORDER Fox' Dessie O'Hare, once the most wanted man in Ireland, is now living in fear and will not return to the North because he believes he will be shot.

The former INLA man, who was granted extended temporary release from prison late last month after serving 18 years of a 40-year sentence, fears he will be executed in a scenario similar to that which saw IRA spy Denis Donaldson shot dead.

Now living at an unknown location in, O'Hare is said to be under siege by reporters seeking to interview him.

Yesterday the man given the task of helping him to re-integrate into society, said O'Hare "could not and would not" talk to the media because it would breach the terms of his temporary release.

Paul Hogan, a member of the visiting committee at Castlerea Prison where O'Hare had been incarcerated before his release, gave an interview yesterday to strenuously deny that O'Hare was living in his home in Moycullen.

Mr Hogan, a Galway training centre supervisor who was appointed to the Castlerea Visiting Committee by Justice Minister Michael McDowell, said that an article in the 'News of the World' which featured a photograph of his house in Co Galway was "completely untrue".

And he criticised a recent front-page article in 'Ireland on Sunday' which claimed O'Hare had asked for €10,000 for an exclusive interview as similarly untrue.

Speaking on Galway Bay FM, Mr Hogan said he wanted to make it clear that what Dessie O'Hare did - kidnapping and mutilating dentist John O'Grady - was "disgusting".

But he stressed that 20 years had passed since that event.

"Dessie O'Hare is one of the most gentle people that I know on this earth," Mr Hogan said. "If I thought any different, I would have nothing to do with him."

He explained that one of his functions as a member of the Castlerea Prison Visiting Committee was to ensure that the welfare of prisoners was looked after.

"Over the years I got to know Dessie and befriended him. As the time approached for his temporary release, I was asked by Brian Purcell, Director General of the Irish Prison Service, to liaise with the welfare service and with the Governor of Castlerea prison to facilitate with this man's release."

Said Mr Hogan: "Dessie cannot go home because of a fear of his life, that he will be shot. And it is quite a legitimate fear when you take the Donaldson case as a scenario because when it appeared in the papers where Mr Donaldson was living, he was shot dead a couple of weeks later.

"Obviously, Dessie O'Hare has a past and he would have enemies in the North of Ireland that have been traumatised themselves.

"I would like to stress that there is nobody undermining the pain and suffering that people in the North have gone through.

"There is nobody undermining the pain and suffering that Mr O'Grady went through during the kidnapping, but that is not at issue here."

He added that O'Hare had been told to keep a low profile and not do any media interviews.

Brian McDonald

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