“and for a time remained faithful to the IRA leadership and Sinn Fein.”

If the Sunday Times article is accurate, why has the Northern Ireland Secretary of State not revoked Bernard McGinn’s early release licence? Fear of a legal challenge? Although some of the original convictions were successfully appealed on the basis that he was not properly cautioned, a twenty year sentence imposed in 1999 remains – despite only 16 months having been served. From the Sunday Times report

Bernard McGinn, 52, a master bomber and gunman from Co Monaghan, is among a group of IRA hardliners who now support Oglaigh na hEireann, a splinter group that has carried out several high-profile bomb attacks in Northern Ireland, according to gardai.

They believe McGinn commands respect among the IRA rank and file, and may be able to recruit other disgruntled IRA members into the ranks of the dissidents. The IRA in south Armagh recently split and a number of members resigned. They are believed to be disenchanted with Sinn Fein’s policies and what they regard as the party’s abandonment of traditional republican values.

A close ally of Thomas “Slab” Murphy, the former IRA chief of staff, said McGinn was one of the IRA’s most deadly terrorists. His unit mounted scores of attacks against the Royal Ulster Constabulary and the British Army, murdering several soldiers with a sniper rifle.