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Alleged former IRA leader Thomas 'Slab' Murphy enjoys stroll in prison just miles from border

Thomas 'Slab' Murphy was pictured enjoying a walk in the ground of the low-security Loughan House prison in Co Cavan. Picture by The Sunday World
Thomas 'Slab' Murphy was pictured enjoying a walk in the ground of the low-security Loughan House prison in Co Cavan. Picture by The Sunday World Thomas 'Slab' Murphy was pictured enjoying a walk in the ground of the low-security Loughan House prison in Co Cavan. Picture by The Sunday World

Former IRA leader Thomas 'Slab' Murphy has been transferred to a low-security prison just miles from the border as he enters the final months of his sentence for tax evasion.

The 67-year-old farmer, from Hackballscross, Co Louth, on the Armagh border, was jailed for 18 months last February.

He had been serving out his sentence in Midlands Prison in Co Laois, but The Sunday World has reported that he has now been transferred to Loughan House, Co Cavan.

He was photographed by the newspaper enjoying a stroll in the grounds of the prison.

Loughan House sits on 47 acres of park and woodland in the village of Blacklion, and a small bridge connects the road linking the village to Belcoo in Co Fermanagh.

Murphy, who is due to be released in April, is understood to have arrived at the prison without an Irish Army or Garda escort.

Loughan House is an open prison with visits during the day and facilities to allow prisoners to train for work upon their release.

Three former bank executives - John Bowe, Willie McAteer and Denis Casey - are also held at the jail, as well as former financial advisor Breifne O'Brien.

Murphy, who had denied the charges, was found guilty in December 2015 of nine charges at the non-jury Special Criminal Court in Dublin.

He was found guilty of owing the Republic's exchequer almost €190,000 (£147,000) in unpaid tax from 1996 to 2004.

He has appealed the conviction, claiming that his brother had already paid the tax owed.

The Court of Appeal is yet to issue a ruling.

In 1998, Murphy lost a £1 million libel action against The Sunday Times which described him as a senior IRA figure.

Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams TD previously criticised the use of the non-jury trial and described Murphy as a "good republican".

Last year the National Union of Journalists called on Garda to investigate allegations that journalists and photographers were intimidated while trying to take photos of Murphy as he cast his vote in the Republic's election just hours before he was sentenced.