REAL IRA CHIEF DOES A RUNNER AFTER FUNERAL; He was released to mourn grandson.
A REAL IRA leader is on the run after being freed from prison to attend his grandson's funeral.
Ciaran McLaughlin, 47, the self-confessed chief of the terror group in Maghaberry Prison, was given 12 hours' leave after his two-year-old grandson died.
But he failed to return to prison after the funeral in Derry on Monday morning.
McLaughlin was jailed for 18 years after an arsenal of terrorist weapons was found in his Galliagh Park home in Derry in November 2000.
One of the weapons found by police in a spare room at McLaughlin's house was an improvised single-shot sniper's rifle, equipped with a telescopic sight.
Sentencing McLaughlin at his trial in Belfast Crown Court last November, Lord Justice McCollum described him as a "dedicated terrorist".
McLaughlin attended the funeral of his grandson Kyle McMonagle at Derry's St Joseph's Church, Galliagh, on Monday morning accompanied by a prison chaplain.
A spokesman for the Northern Ireland Prison Service yesterday confirmed that the terrorist had failed to honour his 12-hour compassionate leave.
He added: "He has now been reported as being unlawfully at large and the police have been informed."
McLaughlin had campaigned from Maghaberry Prison to be allowed to visit his critically ill grandson who suffered from hydrocephalus.
That campaign was backed by the nationalist-controlled Derry City Council and by members of the Catholic Church. SDLP Derry City Council member Pat Ramsey yesterday appealed to McLaughlin to return to prison.
Cllr Ramsey said: "I would sincerely hope he looks at the broader picture and it's now up to him and his family to ensure he returns to prison."
But the DUP's security spokesman Gregory Campbell MP, also a member of the council, said: "This development hardly surprises me.
"In this case, Mr McLaughlin has taken advantage of a time of bereavement within his family."
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|Publication:||The Mirror (London, England)|
|Date:||Aug 21, 2002|
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