By Andrew Bushe
DUBLIN — The eight men arrested by Gardai for questioning about suspected republican paramilitary activities were released without charge last week.
The eight, three from Northern Ireland and five from the Republic, were detained after the Republican Sinn Fein splinter group held its annual conference in Drogheda. They included the party’s vice president, Des Long, its only councilor, Joe O’Neill, Rory Og O Bradaigh, the son of the party’s president, and Eamonn Larkin, from South Armagh.
RSF strongly opposes the Northern Ireland peace agreement and Gardai believe its military wing is the Continuity IRA — the only republican paramilitary group not to have declared a cease-fire. RFS denies this.
The men were questioned about suspected membership of the CIRA and their possible involvement in other subversive activities.
Another Provisional IRA prisoner has been released Portlaoise Prison under the terms of the Northern Ireland peace agreement.
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Peter Sherry, 43, from County Meath, had been transferred to Portlaoise from a prison in Britain last January.
He was jailed for life in 1985 after he was arrested in Glasgow in June 1985 along with Patrick Magee, who was wanted for the bombing attack on Margaret Thatcher in Brighton, and Gerry McDonald, an escapee from the Maze. Two others arrested at the same time, Martina Anderson and Ella O’Dwyer, were released shortly before Sherry. Forensic tests later linked them to a bomb found in a hotel near Buckingham Palace. All were convicted of conspiring to cause explosions in England.
Sherry’s release leaves 18 convicted IRA men being held who were either transferred from British jails or are serving capital life sentences for the murder of Gardai.
There are four other IRA men still being held pending trials or extradition hearings.
The early release was sanctioned by Justice Minister John O’Donoghue under the Criminal Justice (Release of Prisoners) Act.
Sherry was freed on the recommendation of Release of Prisoners Commission — which comprises two senior civil servants and a barrister — after they had reviewed his case.