Published Thursday, 28 November 2013
Seamus Kearney was sentenced to life in prison for murder. (© Pacemaker)
Kearney, 54, from Gorteade Road in Swatragh was found guilty of the murder of John Proctor.
The 25-year-old RUC reservist was gunned down by the IRA moments after visiting his newborn son in September 1981.
Kearney was sentenced to life imprisonment, however, under the terms of the Good Friday Agreement, he will serve two years before being released on licence.
Following the conviction, Sinn Féin MLA for mid-Ulster Ian Milne said: "I know Seamus Kearney well.
"He previously served a long period of imprisonment for IRA activities.
"The decision to pursue Seamus on these historic charges was wrong, vindictive, unnecessary and counterproductive."
He added: "It is ironic at a time when the Haass process is coming to a conclusion in dealing with legacy issues that a republican is being imprisoned on historic changes.
"It seems that the British Government on one hand wants to talk the language of building a new future here but at the same time is sending a message that it is continuing to fight old battles.
"Like the previous case of Gerry McGeough, it is our position that Seamus should be released and allowed to return home to his family."
The DUP's Jeffrey Donaldson, while welcoming the sentence, hit out at Sinn Féin's reaction.
He said: "The callous and cruel murder of Reserve Constable Proctor by IRA criminals in 1981 was particularly savage given that Mr Proctor was leaving a hospital after visiting his wife and newborn son.
"Those who engaged in this disgusting crime will have known his reason for being at the hospital that day but it did not prevent them from snuffing out his life."
He added: "The reaction of Sinn Féin to the conviction of Kearney reflects a callous disregard for the suffering and pain inflicted by the IRA on Mr Proctor's family.
"It is disgraceful to see elected representatives rushing out press releases demanding the release of this convicted murderer.
"Indeed, the fact that a Sinn Féin MLA couldn't even mention Mr Proctor by name in his press release speaks volumes.
"He was just another RUC man to their mind."
The Lagan Valley MP added: "We have seen this pattern of behaviour before when republicans are held to account for their past.
"In recent times Sinn Fein has sought to re-write history in order to place terrorists on the same moral level as innocent victims like John Proctor.
"They were not, are not and never will be."
© UTV News