Dublin frees five IRA prisoners

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The Independent Online
Five IRA prisoners were freed from jail before completion of their sentences in the Irish Republic yesterday as part of the Dublin government's response to the group's continuing ceasefire. The move followed the early release of two other IRA men last month from the high-security Portlaoise prison, 50 miles from Dublin.

The five, all from the Donegal-Londonderry border area, were named as Kieran McFadden, Dermot McFarland, Michael McLaughlin, Paul Rodgers and Patrick Villa. They were due to have stayed in jail until next August. The development was thought to be linked to this week's historic breakthrough in the negotiations on the future of Northern Ireland.

The men were all jailed for terms of up to six years for arms and explosives offences committed along the Ulster border between Co Donegal and Co Londonderry. They were arrested in possession of arms and ammunition and sentenced at Dublin's anti-terrorist Special Criminal Court.

The Dublin government let out more than 35 IRA personnel early after the start of the group's first ceasefire in 1994, but the release programme was abandoned when terrorism resumed with the Docklands bomb attack in February last year.