Adams calls for release
Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams MP this week reiterated his call on the Dublin government to release the five republican prisoners held in Castlerea Prison, Roscommon, known as the Castlerea Five. He called was speaking in response to remarks made by Minister for Justice John O'Donoghue on the Marian Finucane Show (RTÉ Radio 1).
Adams said: ``It is absolutely untrue to say that Sinn Féin was told during the Good Friday negotiations that the Castlerea prisoners would be excluded from the Good Friday Agreement prisoner early-release scheme. These men are covered under the Good Friday Agreement and should be released now.
``John O'Donoghue has made a number of incorrect and misleading claims in relation to the case of the Castlerea Five. He says that Sinn Féin negotiators were told during the negotiations that these men would not quality. I would like to ask the Minister:
``Sinn Féin did raise the case of these prisoners, along with others. Irish Government representatives said that if these men were sentenced that their early release would cause difficulties but Sinn Féin insisted that there could be no exceptions.
``The absence of any clause in the Good Friday Agreement excluding these particular prisoners is proof of how the negotiations closed.
``Indeed, the criteria is as contained in the Agreement. The early-release scheme covers all prisoners who belong to organisations on cessation at the time of the Agreement.
``The Irish Government is now in breach of the Agreement in relation to this matter.
``I am very conscious of the pain of this for the McCabe family. The Castlerea prisoners are not prisoners apart. They qualify under the terms of the Good Friday Agreement and they should be released now.''
On Wednesday, 20 december, Sinn Féin elected representatives visited Castlerea Prison. Cavan/Monaghan TD Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin, the Mayor of Sligo Seán MacManus and Leitrim County Council Cathaoirleach Mícheál Colreavy called for the release of the Castlerea Five, whom they met on their visit.
Speaking on his own behalf and on behalf of his colleague elected representatives Ó Caoláin said:
``Under the Agreement these republican prisoners clearly qualify for release and should have been released by now.
``The release of prisoners is a crucial part of the Good Friday Agreement. It has been a difficult process for all those bereaved or injured in the conflict, including the McCabe family. But there can be no hierarchy of victims or hierarchy of prisoners. ALL those who qualify must be released, including the Castlerea Five.''