Six more POWS transferred
Balcombe Street Volunteers come home
``Welcome but long overdue'' was the verdict of Sinn Féin Ard
Chomhairle member Martin Ferris on the transfer of six republican
prisoners to Ireland from Britain last Tuesday 5 May.
Harry Duggan and Joe O'Connell from Clare, Hugh Doherty from
Donegal, Eddie Butler from Limerick, Paul Magee from Belfast and
Liam Quinn from San Francisco left years of isolation and
sub-human conditions in British Jails to await permanent release
In a statement Ferris said ``Today's transfer of six republicans
to Ireland from Britain is welcome but long overdue. Four of
these prisoners have served over 23 years and had been told prior
to Christmas that they would have to serve their entire lives in
``The harsh treatment endured by these prisoners over the years
has been exacerbated by the treatment of their families who on
arrival from Ireland for visits were regularly told that the
prison had been moved. Over this lengthy period these men were
consistently denied compassionate parole''.
Ferris also stressed that ``All of the remaining political
prisoners in England who wish to transfer to Ireland should be
transferred pending release''.
Former Crumlin Road Gaol escaper Paul Magee gave a clenched fist
salute upon hitting the tarmac at Baldonnel airport, a salute not
seen in public since Bodenstown 1981. He has been incarcerated in
prisons in the 26 and Six Counties as well as Britain.
The other five prisoners transferred were all members of an IRA
active service unit operating in Britain in the mid 1970s. Hugh
Doherty, Martin O'Connell, Eddie Butler and Harry Duggan were
arrested in London's Balcombe Street in December 1975.
During their trial the four instructed their lawyers to ''draw
attention to the fact that four totally innocent people ''were
serving ``massive sentences'' for three bombings in Woolwich and
The British prosecution service ignored these statements and for
15 years the Guildford Four languished in British prisons.
In February 1977 Martin O'Connell spoke for the Four. He also
told the court:
``No mention has been made in this court of the violence suffered
by the Irish people; of the use of internment without trial in
the Six Counties; of the conviction before the European Court of
Human rights of the British Government for the torture of Irish
people; nor the many brutalities of British colonial rule.
``We will be judged only by our countrymen. Any verdict or
sentence from this court is nothing more than the continuation of
the hyprocrisy of British rule in Ireland and the injustice it
has inflicted on our country and its people....true peace can
only come about when a nation is free from oppression and