Internment battles for republicans
Internment battles for republicans


A North Derry man who was granted bail this week following a public outcry over his detention earlier this month has been returned to jail in an apparent dispute over his bail conditions.

Christopher O’Kane (pictured, left) faced allegations he accessed a spreadsheet of police data after it was made publicly available by the PSNI in an internet blunder last month.

The incident occurred on August 8, when personal information on all serving PSNI members and civilian staff was mistakenly published on a Freedom of Information website.

O’Kane’s home was searched on August 18 amid a hysterical PSNI response to the release of the data. He was subsequently charged with possessing the information and controversially refused bail.

The court heard O’Kane worked as an IT consultant for websites run by Irish republican political grouping Saoradh and the Irish Republican Prisoners Welfare Association.

Barrister Joe Brolly pointed out that the data was shared among thousands of others who have not been charged with any offences.

On Tuesday, Justice Humphreys agreed that there was no evidence that Mr O’Kane was a member of a “dissident paramilitary group” and released him under extreme bail conditions, involving an electronic manacle and monitoring equipment.

However, late on Tuesday night, the G4S security firm who arrived to affix the surveillance devices to his person described Mr O’Kane as “uncooperative” and left. The following day a second judge remanded him back into custody with a further bail hearing due to be held on Monday, 18 September.


Meanwhile, a former republican internee Ciarán “Zack” Smyth (pictured, right) has been returned to Maghaberry jail, apparently on the basis of a chance encounter in the street.

Saoradh said the fact that the Belfast republican is again facing indefinite detention “should be condemned by all, not least the wider Republican base and anyone claiming to have an interest in human rights”.

His incarceration this week was ordered by Parole Commissioners acting on the basis of claimed ‘intelligence’ passed to them by MI5 and the PSNI. However, his legal team believe that this is based on an alleged five second conversation with a former republican prisoner that Mr Smyth met by chance on a Belfast street.

Saoradh said this may have been “cynically exploited” to once again detain him in Maghaberry.

The lifelong republican is banned from speaking to anyone with a political conviction under the terms of his release licence. He has previously had his licence revoked due to engaging in a political conversation.

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