Northern Ireland news

Real IRA leader Seamus McGrane dies in prison

Real IRA leader Seamus McGrane

A REAL IRA leader jailed for planning an explosion during the visit of Prince Charles to Ireland in 2015 has died in prison.

Seamus McGrane (64) died from a suspected heart attack on Saturday.

He was found guilty in 2017 of directing terrorism and had been serving an 11-and-a-half-year sentence.

The Republic's prison service said foul play was not suspected in relation to his death.

"As with all deaths in custody the Prison Service, the Inspector of Prisons and An Garda Síochána will be investigating the incident," a spokesperson said.

McGrane was the leader of the Real IRA, a group responsible for numerous atrocities including the Omagh bomb.

He was only the second person to be convicted of directing terrorism in Ireland, his ally Michael McKevitt having been jailed for 20 years in 2003 for the same offence.

During his trial at the Special Criminal Court, the court was told that McGrane discussed an operation involving explosives in the run-up to the visit of Prince Charles.

From Co Louth he was convicted of directing the activities of the IRA on dates between the dates of April 19 and May 13, 2015 as well as IRA membership.

Covert garda recordings captured McGrane referring to a “military operation” of significance and “the main attack”on May 19, 2015, the date Prince Charles was due to visit.

McGrane had also referred in the recordings to an attack on Palace Barracks, the MI5 Headquarters in Holywood, Co Down on April 12, 2010, and to a bomb on a railway line.

McGrane had instructed that the operation should not be an “embarrassment” and that it was not to occur in Sligo or Galway, where Prince Charles was due to visit.

The target of the attack, his trial was told, was to be the Cross of Sacrifice, a monument in Glasnevin cemetery in Dublin commemorating British and Irish soldiers who fought in World War I.

He was arrested six days before the planned attack and searches at a number of addresses, including his house, uncovered explosives, detonators, ammunition and mortars.

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