Pat Kearney, a spokesman for the family of slain Det Garda Jerry McCabe, has given the family's reaction to a statement of apology by Det McCabe's killers.
He said: “Our initial reaction is that an apology is very late in the day coming from these killers of Garda Jerry McCabe. It certainly does not alleviate the loss and the trauma of Jerry McCabe as a loving father and a loving husband.
“However, we are Christian people and an apology is always welcome from wrongdoers.”
The Minister for Justice, Michael McDowell, said the Government had already made it clear that the release would not arise in future discussions. He said the belated statement simply recognises that reality.
Last month, An Taoiseach Bertie Ahern moved to rule out the possibility of early release for the men after it had been the subject of political debate throughout last year’s failed attempts to reach a peace deal in Northern Ireland.
After a period of uncertainty over whether their release would possibly form part of the peace negotiations, Mr Ahern stated it would not be part of any future discussions towards a deal for as long as he was Taoiseach.
The men, who have now completely removed their possible early release from any negotiations on the peace process, will continue to serve their sentences in Castlerea prison.
However, they will be out in around five years with a quarter of their sentences removed for good behaviour.