No peace process for McDowell

The 26-County Minister for Justice, Michael McDowell, has refused to allow a jailed IRA Volunteer temporary release to sit a college entrance exam.

Independent TD Finian McGrath made representations on behalf of Stephen Birney. The Dublin North TD wrote to justice minister Michael McDowell on behalf of Birney asking that he be paroled to sit an entrance exam for a music degree.

Birney was sentenced to four years for membership of the IRA after being stopped in a van with four other men in 2002.

Mr McGrath said he wrote to the minister after being contacted by the family of Birney, who is due for release next January.

He asked Mr McDowell to reconsider granting temporary release to Birney to allow him to sit the exam.

“I believe in giving everyone a second chance,” he said. “I know it’s not a popular thing to do but it’s the sensible thing to do.”

The 26-County Minister for Justice, Michael McDowell refused the application, saying: “I was not prepared to override the negative recommendations from the Irish Prison Service and accede to this request.”

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