Of the four persons convicted of the unlawful killing of Detective Garda Jerry McCabe, three have been granted a single period of temporary release since their committal to prison custody. These temporary releases took place in October 2000, December 2000 and earlier this month. The fourth prisoner has had three such temporary releases which took place in October 2000, January 2001 and in April 2001. Each release consisted of a period of three overnights and were granted in accordance with standard criteria that have applied in such cases. In all cases, leave was granted on compassionate grounds. Deputies will be aware that compassionate leave concessions were available to paramilitary prisoners long before the Good Friday Agreement came to be negotiated and before any ceasefires were in place.
The Minister of State, on my behalf, in the course of Private Notice Questions in the House on 13 and 14 December last, stated that I was arranging for procedures to be put in place to ensure the victim's family be informed when short-term compassionate parole was being granted in these cases. Such procedures have been implemented and in the most recent instance, the Garda authorities and the victim's spouse were informed in advance of the impending temporary release.
The position in relation to the question of any early release for these prisoners has been stated on numerous occasions by both myself and An Taoiseach. In addition, I wish to state that two of the prisoners in question have applied to the courts seeking release under the Good Friday Agreement. The Government will defend fully its position in these proceedings.