Who is Kieran McLaughlin?

Kieran McLaughlin
Kieran McLaughlin

Kieran McLaughlin, the man at the centre of a huge police manhunt on both sides of the border, is well-known in republican circles in Derry.

Following the murder of Barry McCrory in Derry on Thursday morning, the PSNI took the unusual step of releasing McLaughlin’s name as someone they wanted to speak to as part of the investigation.

They also warned the public that he was not to be approached.

The 58 year-old has a long history of involvement in armed republicanism in the city.

Born in the Creggan area, he joined the IRA as a teenager and was imprisoned in Long Kesh for a period in the 1970s.

In 1981 he was sentenced to 13 years imprisonment. He was released in 1994 at the time the IRA declared its ceasefire.

He became disillusioned with the direction of republicanism during that period and joined the Real IRA when it split from the mainstream republicanism in 1997.

In 2001 McLaughlin was caught with an arsenal of Real IRA weapons in the Shantallow area of the city and was sentenced to 18 years’ imprisonment.

During his sentence both of his parents and his grandson died and their deaths are thought to have had a significant impact on his mental health.

Prominent dissident republican Marian Price was among those who campaigned for his release at the time.

He was released from Maghaberry Prison to give evidence to the Saville Inquiry into the events of Bloody Sunday.

In 2004 he was granted compassionate parole, accompanied by the SDLP’s Pat Ramsey, to visit his dying father.