Michael McKevitt
Michael McKevitt is an Irish republican
Irish Republicanism
Irish republicanism is an ideology based on the belief that all of Ireland should be an independent republic.In 1801, under the Act of Union, the Kingdom of Great Britain and the Kingdom of Ireland merged to form the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland...

 who was convicted of directing terrorism
Terrorism is the systematic use of terror, especially as a means of coercion. In the international community, however, terrorism has no universally agreed, legally binding, criminal law definition...

 as the leader of the paramilitary
A paramilitary is a force whose function and organization are similar to those of a professional military, but which is not considered part of a state's formal armed forces....

 organisation, the Real IRA.


McKevitt, Who was a native of County Louth
County Louth
County Louth is a county of Ireland. It is part of the Border Region and is also located in the province of Leinster. It is named after the town of Louth. Louth County Council is the local authority for the county...

 joined the Provisional IRA during the outbreak of the Troubles
The Troubles
The Troubles was a period of ethno-political conflict in Northern Ireland which spilled over at various times into England, the Republic of Ireland, and mainland Europe. The duration of the Troubles is conventionally dated from the late 1960s and considered by many to have ended with the Belfast...

. In February 1975 he was shot in the knees by the Official IRA
Official IRA
The Official Irish Republican Army or Official IRA is an Irish republican paramilitary group whose goal was to create a "32-county workers' republic" in Ireland. It emerged from a split in the Irish Republican Army in December 1969, shortly after the beginning of "The Troubles"...

 during a feud between the two organisations. He was a longtime senior member of the Provisional Irish Republican Army and served as the organisation's Quartermaster General
IRA Quartermaster General
The IRA Quartermaster General runs a department which is responsible for obtaining, concealing and maintaining the store of weaponry of the Irish Republican Army....

, a role which gave him unique personal knowledge of the whereabouts of, and access to PIRA arms dumps. He quit the organisation in protest at the movement's ceasefires and its participation through Sinn Féin
Sinn Féin
Sinn Féin is a left wing, Irish republican political party in Ireland. The name is Irish for "ourselves" or "we ourselves", although it is frequently mistranslated as "ourselves alone". Originating in the Sinn Féin organisation founded in 1905 by Arthur Griffith, it took its current form in 1970...

 in the Peace Process
Peace process
Peace process may refer to:* in general:** Peacebuilding** Conflict resolution* specifically:** Northern Ireland peace process, efforts from c.1993 to end "the Troubles"...

 which led to the Good Friday Agreement. McKevitt launched a dissident offshoot of the PIRA, called the Real IRA, using guns and weaponry he as the Quartermaster General of the PIRA had known the whereabouts of and had seized.

McKevitt is married to Bernadette Sands McKevitt
Bernadette Sands McKevitt
Bernadette Sands McKevitt is an Irish republican, and a former leading member of the 32 County Sovereignty Movement. She lived in the mainly loyalist Rathcoole area of Newtownabbey before her family were forced out of their home to live in the mainly republican West Belfast...

, a sister of 1981 PIRA hunger strike
Hunger strike
A hunger strike is a method of non-violent resistance or pressure in which participants fast as an act of political protest, or to provoke feelings of guilt in others, usually with the objective to achieve a specific goal, such as a policy change. Most hunger strikers will take liquids but not...

r and MP
Member of Parliament
A Member of Parliament is a representative of the voters to a :parliament. In many countries with bicameral parliaments, the term applies specifically to members of the lower house, as upper houses often have a different title, such as senate, and thus also have different titles for its members,...

, Bobby Sands
Bobby Sands
Robert Gerard "Bobby" Sands was an Irish volunteer of the Provisional Irish Republican Army and member of the United Kingdom Parliament who died on hunger strike while imprisoned in HM Prison Maze....

, who died during his hunger strike. Sands McKevitt was a leading member of the 32 County Sovereignty Movement
32 County Sovereignty Movement
The 32 County Sovereignty Movement, often abbreviated to 32CSM or 32csm, is an Irish republican political organisation.The 32CSM's objectives are:* "The restoration of Irish national sovereignty"....

 and had been described in media reports as the third highest ranking Real IRA officer. She left the 32 County Sovereignty Movement following the imprisonment of her husband.

Real IRA membership

McKevitt was convicted by the Republic of Ireland
Republic of Ireland
Ireland , described as the Republic of Ireland , is a sovereign state in Europe occupying approximately five-sixths of the island of the same name. Its capital is Dublin. Ireland, which had a population of 4.58 million in 2011, is a constitutional republic governed as a parliamentary democracy,...

's non-jury Special Criminal Court
Special Criminal Court
The Special Criminal Court is a juryless criminal court in the Republic of Ireland which tries terrorist and organized crime cases. Article 38 of the Constitution of Ireland empowers the Dáil to establish "special courts" with wide-ranging powers when "the ordinary courts are inadequate to secure...

 on 6 August 2003 of two terrorist offences: "membership of an illegal organisation" (the Real IRA) and "directing terrorism" between 29 August 1999 and 23 October 2000. He was the first person to be convicted of the latter offence, introduced in the aftermath of the Omagh Bombing. The prosecution case was based on the testimony of an American FBI informant, David Rupert
David Rupert
David Rupert is a former FBI/British intelligence agent whose testimony led to the arrest and prosecution of Michael McKevitt, the reputed leader of the Real IRA, for the Omagh Bombing. ....

. According to information revealed in his trial, among his plans was to attempt the assassination of the then British Prime Minister Tony Blair
Tony Blair
Anthony Charles Lynton Blair is a former British Labour Party politician who served as the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 2 May 1997 to 27 June 2007. He was the Member of Parliament for Sedgefield from 1983 to 2007 and Leader of the Labour Party from 1994 to 2007...


Mr. Justice Richard Johnson said of McKevitt, "[t]he accused played a leading role in the organisation which he directed and induced others to join." On 7 August 2003 he was sentenced to twenty years in prison. Given all possible reductions and remission, it means that the earliest he can be released is 2016.

McKevitt appealed his convictions to the Court of Criminal Appeal
Court of Criminal Appeal
The Court of Criminal Appeal is the name of existing courts of Scotland and Ireland, and an historic court in England and Wales.- Ireland :See Court of Criminal Appeal ...

, arguing that Rupert's testimony was unreliable since he had been paid large sums of money for his role as an informant (a total of £750,000 from the FBI and MI5
The Security Service, commonly known as MI5 , is the United Kingdom's internal counter-intelligence and security agency and is part of its core intelligence machinery alongside the Secret Intelligence Service focused on foreign threats, Government Communications Headquarters and the Defence...

), and because of Rupert's long criminal record. In December 2005, the court rejected these arguments and said that Rupert was a credible witness. Both of McKevitt's convictions were upheld. In July 2006 McKevitt was given leave to appeal to the Supreme Court
Supreme Court (Ireland)
The Supreme Court of Ireland is the highest judicial authority in the Republic of Ireland. It is a court of final appeal and exercises, in conjunction with the High Court, judicial review over Acts of the Oireachtas . The Court also has jurisdiction to ensure compliance with the Constitution of...

. The appeal was rejected on 30 July 2008.

McKevitt was expelled from the Real IRA after a disagreement between a group of Real IRA prisoners in Portlaoise Prison
Portlaoise Prison
Portlaoise Prison is the Republic of Ireland's only high security prison. It is located in Portlaoise, County Laois. It should not be confused with the Midlands Prison, which is a newer, medium security prison situated directly beside it....

 and the outside leadership. The prisoners issued a statement urging the leadership to stand down claiming a criminal element had taken over. McKevitt and his supporters went on to form a group called The New Republican Forum.

In June 2009, McKevitt was one of four men found by a civil court to be liable for the 1998 Omagh bombing
Omagh bombing
The Omagh bombing was a car bomb attack carried out by the Real Irish Republican Army , a splinter group of former Provisional Irish Republican Army members opposed to the Good Friday Agreement, on Saturday 15 August 1998, in Omagh, County Tyrone, Northern Ireland. Twenty-nine people died as a...

 in a case taken by relatives of the victims.

Previous to his arrest and jailing, McKevitt resided at Beech Park, Blackrock, County Louth
Blackrock, County Louth
Blackrock , is a seaside village just to the south of Dundalk, County Louth, Ireland. The village is in the townland of Haggardstown. The current population of the village is about 3,000....

. A website launched to highlight McKevitt's case was launched in June 2006.

External links

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