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Funeral of former Real IRA leader Michael McKevitt takes place

The dissident republican, one of four men found liable for the Omagh bomb, died a number of years after being diagnosed with terminal cancer.

2.57397977 Source: PA Images

THE FUNERAL OF former Real IRA leader Michael McKevitt has taken place in Co Louth.

The dissident republican, who was one of four men found liable for the Omagh bomb, died on Saturday following a diagnosis of terminal cancer a number of years ago.

McKevitt was released from prison in 2016 after serving a 20-year sentence for directing terrorism and membership of an illegal organisation.

The 71-year-old was married to Bernadette Sands McKevitt, a sister of IRA hunger striker Bobby Sands.

A death notice stated that he died peacefully at home surrounded by his family.

McKevitt is the father of Stephen, Michael, Carol, Roisin and Blathnaid and the late Karen.

He was described as the “devoted” grandfather of Darcy and Erin and “dearest” brother of Patsy, Irene, Tom and Vincent.

The death notice stated that he will be “sadly missed and remembered with love” by his wife, children, grandchildren, wider family circle and friends.

Under current government health guidelines and coronavirus restrictions, only 10 mourners are permitted to attend funerals.

A small crowd gathered at the McKevitt family home in Blackrock, while around 50 mourners walked behind the hearse as it made its way to St Fursey’s Church in Haggardstown.

There was a heavy security presence around the area, with two checkpoints set up across the town.

Gardai were visible around the route from the former Real IRA leader’s home to the church.

2.57398415 Bernadette Sands McKevitt (left), widow of former Real IRA leader Michael McKevitt, escorts his coffin from the church following a Funeral Mass in Blackrock, Co Louth. Source: Liam McBurney/PA

While his coffin was draped in the Irish flag, there were no signs of any paramilitary trappings or reminders of his IRA past.

Among those attending the funeral was Seamus Daly, who was one of the four men found liable for the 1998 Omagh bombing.

McKevitt always denied being involved in the Omagh bombing, but in 2009 a judge ruled in a landmark civil trial that McKevitt, Daly, Liam Campbell and Colm Murphy were all liable for the bomb.

He ordered them to pay a total of £1.6 million damages to 12 relatives who took the case.

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A fifth man, Seamus McKenna, was cleared of liability for the bombing.

No-one has ever been convicted of the dissident republican bomb attack in Omagh which killed 29 people, including a woman pregnant with twins.

In an online death notice, McKevitt’s family asked people to leave personal messages as they were not able to attend the funeral.

Hundreds of condolences were posted online to mark his death.

The family post added: “Michael’s family would like to take this opportunity to extend their heartfelt thanks to the medical staff of St James’ Hospital, Beaumont Hospital, Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital, in particular the palliative care team, and the Irish Cancer Society, Dundalk Medical Centre and McQuillan’s pharmacy Blackrock.”

A statement issued by the Republican Network For Unity on Facebook said: “(We) are deeply saddened to learn of the passing of our friend and comrade Michael McKevitt.”

In 2019, McKevitt was adjudicated bankrupt in the High Court following his failure to pay damages to the families of the Omagh victims.

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