EVIL Real IRA terror boss Seamus McGrane, who plotted to blow up Prince Charles, has died in prison.
The 65-year-old was serving an 11-and-a-half year sentence in the maximum security Portlaoise Prison in County Laois, Ireland.
The Irish Prison Service said in a statement: “The Irish Prison Serivce can confirm the death of a prisoner in Portlaoise prison. As with all deaths in custody the Prison Service, the Inspector of Prisons and An Garda Síochána will be investigating the incident. Foul play is not suspected.
Irish Republican News tweeted: “Hearing that republican prisoner Seamus McGrane, a former leader of the breakaway IRA group Óglaigh na hÉireann, has passed away.”
He was convicted over his failed bid to cause carnage here during the British Royal visit in May 2015.
McGrane, from Dromisikin, Co Louth, became Ireland’s most lethal Real IRA chief after pal Michael McKevitt was caged for directing terrorism in 2003.
The aging dissident was also close to the gang which caused the 1998 Omagh bombing outrage that left 32 people dead.
Although he had been a major target for the gardai’s Special Detective Unit since the 1980s, his jailing in December 2017 was the first time McGrane has been hit with his most serious offence.
The terrorist also received a reference from Fianna Fail TD Eamon O’Cuiv, who claimed he had been “very supportive” of the peace process.
The TD later said that he was not aware that the letter was to be used in Court and that he had been working to persuade dissidents to move away from violence
‘HEART OF THE REAL IRA’
One senior investigator who previously investigated McGrane – who also recruited vulnerable young men to the terror gang’s ranks – told how the die-hard republican was one of the Real IRA’s top three leaders in the country.
They said: “He was the most significant dissident republican to be sentenced since McKevitt. McGrane was at the heart of the Real IRA – it will be very hard for them to replace him.
“The operation against him lasted for months and didn’t just happen overnight. He was an expert in anti-surveillance but he was finally caught because of his determination to kill Prince Charles.
“There’s no doubt he’s been one of the top three dissident republican terrorists in Ireland in the last twenty years and it was a fantastic result for the SDU to have him behind bars.”
When he was sentenced, Gardai issued images of the deadly arsenal at McGrane’s disposal at the time of his arrest.
They included four home-made rockets to be used against the British Prince as he made his way through Dublin, Semtex explosives and a detonator.
Other items seized when anti terror cops swooped on his hideout in Little Road, Dromiskin, Co Louth on May 13, 2015 included his personal .455 Webley revolver and ammunition.
Although the weapon was 99 years old, gardai believe it was in “excellent condition” and had a “symbolic importance” to the holder.
The target of the planned attacks were to be the Cross of Sacrifice, a monument in Glasnevin cemetery in Dublin commemorating British and Irish soldiers who fought in World War 1.
During his trial, McGrane was convicted by the non-jury Special Criminal Court of directing the activities of an unlawful organisation, styling itself the Irish Republican Army, otherwise Oglaigh na hEireann, otherwise the IRA, between the dates of April 19th and May 13th, 2015.
He was also found guilty by the three-judge court of membership of the IRA between January 18th, 2010 and May 13th, 2015. He had denied both charges. He was also sentenced to six and a half years in prison for IRA membership.
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Sentencing McGrane, presiding judge Ms Justice Isobel Kennedy said that it was “a most serious offence”.
The judge also noted that the court had received a letter from Eamon O’Cuiv TD, in which the Fianna Fail member expressed the opinion that McGrane was “fully supportive” of Mr O’Cuiv’s efforts to facilitate the peace process.
The judge said, however, that the TD’s opinions were “unconvincing” in the light of McGrane’s history.