Five men at the centre of court's ruling

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The Independent Online
The IRA men who were the subject of the High Court ruling which found Michael Howard unreasonably delayed their parole hearings are some of the country's longest-serving prisoners.

They got 16 life sentences at Manchester Crown Court in 1976 for conspiracy to murder and cause explosions and possessing arms and explosives.

They were described by the judge as "dangerous and disgusting men".

Their sentences, including concurrent terms, amounted to 627 years. The five are:

Brendan Dowd, 47, who was named the IRA's top terrorist organiser in Britain when he was jailed. He was a key figure in mainland bombings in 1974 and 1975. He claimed to have been involved in the Guildford bombing but was never charged.

He was arrested as he tried to form an IRA active unit in Liverpool;

Sean Kinsella, 48, from Co Fermanagh, was caught with Dowd. Was on the run from Portlaoise jail in the Irish Republic. Panicked and shot a policemen during a traffic check, leading to their arrest in Liverpool;

Stephen Nordone, 39, from Co Louth, was 19 at the time but had been an IRA member for five years.

Helped move Dowd's arsenal to Liverpool from Manchester after other gang members started shooting in an Indian restaurant;

Paul Norney, 37, from Belfast, was arrested for the murder of two soldiers when he fled to England. Married his childhood sweetheart Briege in Parkhurst Prison in 1987;

Noel Gibson, 42, from Co Laois, refused to make any statements to police.

He was arrested with Norney after the restaurant shooting,which led to a police inspector being shot as he chased them. The Home Office said shortly after Mr Justice Dyson issued his ruling that it was considering an appeal - although in court its lawyers had indicated that there would be none.