Killers waiting for freedom

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PATRICK MAGEE is the 277th prisoner to be freed under the early release scheme, with around 230 remaining. The Northern Ireland prison service is unable to give a precise figure as some cases are still under consideration.

In order to qualify for the scheme, prisoners must have been convicted for a crime committed before the Good Friday Agreement and be serving five or more years. Those with a life sentence must pose no danger to the public. No one will be released if they are a member of; Continuity IRA, Real IRA, Red Hand Defenders, or the Orange Volunteers.

In Prison

Johnny "Mad Dog" Adair the Ulster Freedom Fighter, has been linked to 20 murders. RUC officers recently warned that if released he could become a leading figure in the organised crime world. He was sentenced to 16 years in 1994.

Michael Stone is a loyalist who hurled grenades and shot at mourners during the funerals of the three IRA members shot dead by the SAS on Gibraltar in 1988. Sentenced to 30 years, he has so far served 10.

IRA bomber Patrick Martin took part in a conspiracy to blow up vital electricity sub-stations. He won a seven-year cut in his 35-year prison sentence after an appeal court judge ruled that killing people was not the "primary object" of the planned campaign. He was one of six IRA members sentenced in July 1997.

James McArdle, an IRA activist jailed for 25 years in June 1998 for his role in the London Docklands bomb. He drove the lorry containing a ton of explosives which killed two people. The attack injured more than 100 and caused pounds 150m-worth of damage to property.

Bernard McGinn, killed three soldiers during a 20-year career with the IRA. One of his victims was Stephen Restorick, the last British soldier to die in Northern Ireland before theAgreement. McGinn was jailed for a total of 490 years for a list of terrorist crimes, including making the bombs that were used in London at Canary Wharf, the Baltic Exchange and Hammersmith Bridge.


Martina Anderson, an IRA member who was convicted in 1985 of plotting a bombing campaign with Patrick Magee. The gang had planned a "bomb-a- day" campaign in London and 12 English holiday resorts.

The IRA's Balcombe Street Gang; Hugh Doherty, Eddie Butler, Harry Duggan, and Martin O'Connell, were freed in April after serving 24 years in Portlaoise prison. Their terror campaign claimed at least 16 lives during the Seventies.

John Fred Gibson, a former Ulster Volunteer Force commander in East Belfast has served 16 years after being sentenced to a total of 1,762 years in 1984 for four murders. He asked for 139 other offences to be taken into account.

Patrick McLaughlin an IRA bomb maker. He was sentenced to 20 years for planning a bombing campaign to mark the run-up to the 1987 general election. A detective who worked on the case said it could have been "the Provisionals' bloodiest series of attacks in England".