Extradition aimed at undermining peace process
By SEAN Mac BRADAIGH
Sinn Féin's Martin McGuinness has said that the arrest of Long
Kesh escapee Tony Kelly on extradition warrants is an attempt to
undermine the peace process.
Tony Kelly (36) originally, from County Derry was arrested in
Letterkenny, County Donegal in the early hours of Wednesday
morning 22 October and taken to the Special Court in Dublin. He
was remanded to appear again next Tuesday. As he was being driven
away Gardai attacked protestors, assaulting one man and
confiscating a banner.
McGuinness said: ``The arrest of Tony Kelly is designed to
undermine the peace process. Those responsible for issuing the
extradition warrant are the `securocrats' in the British
government. These people were responsible for wrecking the peace
process the first time round. The British government have a
responsibility to ensure that they do not do so again. The
British government should immediately withdraw this extradition
Kelly, who has been living openly in Donegal with his wife and
two children since his release from Portlaoise Prison in 1993,
was one of 38 republican prisoners who escaped from the notorious
H-Blocks of Long Kesh in 1983. He had been sentenced to Long Kesh
at the age of 17 to serve a sentence with no realease date at the
`Secretary of State's Pleasure'.
In 1984 Kelly was arrested at Inver, County Donegal and charged
with possession of explosives. He was released from Portlaoise in
In a statement on Kelly's arrest Sinn Féin Vice President Pat
Doherty said: ``The people who will suffer most are his wife and
two children. The serving of extradition warrants on Tony Kelly
is an absolute disgrace and scandal especially at this stage in
the peace process. Rather than involving itself in the
extradition of Irish citizens the Dublin government should be
ensuring the release of all political prisoners.
``A precedent has already been set by the Supreme Court in
relation to these escapes. Why put this family through
unnecessary worry and strain? I appeal to all those who
campaigned against extradition to take up this case.''
The precedent to which Doherty refers are the cases of fellow
Long Kesh escapees Dermot Finucane and Jim Clarke. In March 1990,
the Supreme Court in Dublin ordered the release of Finucane and
Clarke, upholding their appeals against extradition to the Six
Counties and delivering a judgement higly embarrasing to the
British administration's judicial and prison system.
The Supreme Court decision went far in reasserting the right to
immunity from extradition for political prisoners. It overturned
the judgement in the case of Robert Russell which sought to
remove all constitutional protection from IRA members.
The most senior court in the 26 counties further ruled that, in
the face of evidence of brutality in the H-Blocks of Long Kesh
and the failure of the British authorities to take any action
against those reponsible for torturing republican prisoners, the
safety of Dermot Finucane and Jim Clarke could not be guaranteed
if they were extradited.
Sinn Féin will picket the Special Court in Green Street next
Tuesday at 1.30pm