Shatter orders full report on Garda killer’s prison move

Minister for Justice Alan Shatter has ordered a full report into why Donegal garda killer Martin McDermott, who went on the run yesterday was being kept in an low security open prison.

Minister for Justice Alan Shatter has ordered a full report into why Donegal garda killer Martin McDermott, who went on the run yesterday was being kept in an low security open prison.

Meanwhile Taoiseach Enda Kenny, speaking in the US, has bluntly said McDermott should not have been in an open prison and he has pledged to find out why the move to such a low security prison was authorised.

Martin McDermott (26) was arrested in Derry by the PSNI around 11am on Friday. He absconded on Thursday from Loughan Prison in Co Cavan.

The transfer of McDermott to Loughan House in Co Cavan – an open facility with the most relaxed regime in the prison system – came to light last night when it emerged he had absconded. It is understood he will be sent to a closed prison to serve out the remainder of his sentence.

McDermott, from Raphoe, Co Donegal, was noted missing during a head count that took place shortly before 5pm.

Loughan House is an open low-security prison for inmates regarded as requiring lower levels of security. The 160-capacity prison is in Blacklion, Co Cavan.

Speaking on Friday afternoon, Mr Shatter said he has ordered a full report from Michael Donnellan, the director-general of the Irish Prison Service into the transfer of McDermott and the circumstances surrounding his escape.

McDermott, from Raphoe in Co Donegal, was jailed last year for the manslaughter of Garda Gary McLoughlin in 2009.

McDermott was twice over the legal drink-driving limit, when he led gardaí on a 30km high-speed chase on December 13th, 2009, reaching speeds of more than 150km/h. The chase ended when he crashed into a marked patrol car at Lisfannon, Burt, Co Donegal.

Gda McLoughlin (24) died a day later having suffered multiple injuries in the crash.

McDermott, of Castlegrove, Raphoe, Co Donegal was jailed for seven years in July 2011 for the manslaughter of Gda McLoughlin. He was also found guilty of the reckless endangerment. The court heard he had 91 previous convictions, many for traffic offences, including drink-driving, as well as burglary and forgery.

The Garda Representative Association (GRA) has joined Fianna Fáil in demanding a full inquiry into why McDermott had been transferred to Loughan Prison from the Midlands prison.

The GRA, which represents about 12,000 rank and file garda members, said the transfer to an open prison of such a criminal so soon after his conviction for killing a garda needed to be examined by the Government and Mr Shatter.

The Irish Prison Service said it regretted any upset or distress caused to the family and colleagues of Gda McLoughlin.

Speaking in the US yesterday evening, Mr Kenny said he had the deepest sympathy for Gda McLoughlin’s parents Noel and Una and the wider family circle over how Martin McDermott from Raphoe ended up in Loughan House in Co Cavan – less tan an hour from the Fernagh in Leitrim where Gary grew up.

Mr Kenny said McDermott should not have been in an open prison: “This should not have happened,” he said.

He pledged to find out how the decision to move McDermott to a low security prison eight months into his sentence was authorised.