Former INLA Commander and once prisoner at Portlaoise maximum security jail, Mr Dessie O’Hare, once known as the ‘Border Fox’, is to fight extradition from Northern Ireland over his alleged role as the leader of a gang accused of the imprisonment of a Dublin family, a Belfast court has heard today.
Mr O’Hare, now aged 60 and who was once the most wanted man in Ireland, (IR£100,000 reward was offered for information on his known whereabouts), is accused in the Irish Republic of six separate crimes, including violent disorder; an act of grievous bodily harm; threats to kill and three counts of false imprisonment.
Early this morning, Mr O’Hare was detained at his home in Newtownhamilton, Co Armagh, in connection with these charges. His alleged offences relate back to June of 2015 and an incident which occurred at Garters Lane, Saggart, in Co Dublin.
Today he appeared before Belfast Recorders’ Court, flanked by prison guards, to justify the first stage of a bid to have him transferred to the Irish Republic. Lawyers representing Dublin’s High Court were granted bail on the grounds that he could abscond; resulting in a decision to remand Mr O’Hare into custody, to appear before the court again next Friday. Mr Declan Duffy, aged 43, a co-accused, with an address at Hannover Street West in Co. Dublin, has already been remanded in custody here in the Republic and a full hearing has been listed for next month.
Mr O’Hare, was a former Irish republican paramilitary, who broke away from self styled ‘Irish National Liberation Army’ (INLA) leadership in Belfast, to set up his own group, the ‘Irish Revolutionary Brigade’.
Possibly he is best remembered for his kidnapping of the late Dr. John O’Grady, from his home in Cabinteely, Co. Dublin on October 13th, 1987. Mr O’Grady, readers may recall, owned a dental surgery in Ballsbridge and was never the intended victim of this O’Hare led gang; who had mistaken his home for that of his father-in-law, the high-profile millionaire and medical entrepreneur Dr. Austin Darragh. (Alas Dr. John O’Grady died in September of this year).
Intensive Garda detective work traced the kidnappers to a location in Cabra, Co. Dublin and a shoot out ensued. One Garda detective was later seriously wounded, however Mr O’Grady was rescued, minus two little fingers which had been chopped off using a hammer and chisel, before same were sent to Carlow Cathedral. In a follow up telephone call to Gardaí, informing them of what was to be found in the Cathedral, Mr O’Hare stated: “It’s just cost John two of his fingers. Now I’m going to chop him into bits and pieces and send fresh lumps of him every fucking day if I don’t get my money fast.” The O’Hare gang themselves escaped from the Cabra location in a hijacked car, which was later found in Dundalk.
Mr O’Hare later resurfaced again in Dunleer, Co. Louth, where he allegedly fired shots into a chip shop during an altercation with his wife; while two members of his notorious gang were arrested near the town of Cahir, here in Co. Tipperary. Some three weeks later, on November 27th 1987, Mr O’Hare was himself arrested after a car, in which he was a passenger, attempted to drive through an Irish Defence Forces check point near Urlingford, on the Tipperary / Kilkenny border. Following a fire-fight, in which his car driver; named as Mr Martin Bryan, was killed. Mr O’Hare was shot eight times as he resisted arrest and one Irish Army soldier was wounded during this same incident.
At a subsequent trial at the Special Criminal Court, Mr O’Hare was convicted of possession of firearms with intent; unlawful imprisonment and wounding with intent, before receiving a 40-year jail sentence. He staged a ‘dirty protest’ in a wing of the prison in 1998, following the Good Friday Agreement, before being transferred to Castlerea Prison on December 8th 2002, in preparation for his release under the same agreement.
He was first granted temporary release from prison in November 2003, following his attendance at a weekend long course on ‘Conflict Resolution’, in Glencree, situated in the Wicklow Mountains; latter an Irish Peace and Reconciliation Centre dedicated to transforming violent conflict. He was later granted periods of temporary release in November 2004 and in March 2005.
However in November 2005 he was returned to Portlaoise prison after he was caught with a mobile phone and a bag of pills, while returning to Castlerea prison from temporary release, thus jeopardising his chances of release under licence. Following a new High Court bid in April 2006 he was granted extended temporary release, and later the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) issued a statement that Mr O’Hare would no longer be arrested on suspicion of his involvement in up to 30 unsolved killings, since these alleged offences pre-dated the Good Friday Agreement.