The late Sgt Patrick Morrissey.
A Monaghan man, who has served 26 years of a mandatory 40-year sentence for his role in the brutal murder of a Belturbet-born garda sergeant, has lodged a Supreme Court appeal against a rejection for him to be considered for remission.
Noel Callen of Cullaville, Castleblayney, Monaghan, now aged 48, was previously told he must serve the sentence for his involvement in the 1985 murder of Sergeant Patrick Morrissey (49) when he lost a High Court bid for remission earlier this year.
Callan's accomplice in the Ardee Labour Exchange heist in 1985, Michael McHugh from Crossmaglen, Armagh, shot the unarmed sergeant point blank as he lay wounded after giving chase following an armed robbery on June 27 of that same year. The men had made off with a little over £25,000 in a car belonging to the manager of the Labour Exchange.
Callan and McHugh were both sentenced to death before a Special Criminal Court, the last two men in Ireland to be sentenced under the old Capital Punishment law for killing a serving member of the State. However, their sentences were commuted by then President Patrick Hillery to 40 years incarceration. Neither men qualified for release under the provisions of the Good Friday Agreement and both still remain in prison in Portlaoise.
Both men were also further sentenced to 12 years each for robbery.
Callan, though, has for the past year claimed he has been "unlawfully" deprived the right of remission, a move which could see his 40-year term reduced by a third. Last week, despite the High Court ruling in which Justice Michael Hanna said the commutation of a sentence constituted an exercise in clemency by the President alone, Chief Justice Mrs Susan Denham granted Callan a hearing before the Supreme Court.
The case will, however, not be heard until early next year at the earliest.
Neither the Office of the Taoiseach, Uachtarán na hÉireann nor the Department of Justice said they were not in a position to comment on assurances given at the time that Callan and McHugh would serve the mandatory 40 years for the crimes, the latter stating it would be "inappropriate" for the Minister to comment in circumstances where the matter is sub judice.
The Morrissey family also turned down the opportunity to comment on the forthcoming Supreme Court appeal when contacted by The Anglo-Celt.
Sgt Morrisey, a native of Drumalee, near Belturbet was featured on RTE's 'Garda ar Lar' documentary series, in which his widow Bernie Morrissey said her husband and father-of-four was "loved by everybody". Previously serving in Waterford, Dundrum, Stepaside, Whitehall, Omeath, Bridewell, Phoenix Park and finally Collon, Sgt Morrissey had also served as a member of the Garda Subaqua Unit and had been part of the Drogheda Rescue and Recovery Service.
His funeral attracted an unprecedented gathering of mourners, which included Tánaiste Dick Spring and Jack Lynch.
Buried in Belturbet, the funeral cortège poignantly passed through the town of Collon, while at all towns along the route back to his final resting place people turned out by the roadside to show their respects.
Sgt Morrissey is remembered in his native town of Belturbet with a memorial plaque and the renaming of a local park close to the River Erne in his honour.