Irish Republican News · August 16, 2005
[Irish Republican News]

[Irish Republican News]
IRISH REPUBLICAN NEWS: One out - all out!
One out - all out!
A look at the growing campaign to free Dessie O’Hare, one of a handful of prisoners qualifying for release under the 1998 Good Friday Agreement but who remain in jail by order of the 26-County government.

 

WHO IS DESSIE O’HARE?

Dessie O’Hare is a Republican Socialist prisoner currently serving a forty-year gaol sentence in Portlaoise. He was jailed for life in 1988. Dessie has been a Republican activist since the age of sixteen, first as a member of the IRA and then as a member of the INLA.

Dessie is currently the O/C of the INLA prisoners in Portlaoise Prison. He has endorsed and fully accepted the INLA ceasefire. That statement said among other things:

“That the conditions for armed struggle do not exist”.

“We acknowledge and admit faults and grievous errors in our prosecution of the war”.

“Innocent people were killed and injured and at times our actions as a liberation army fell far short of what they should have been. For this we as Republicans, as Socialists and as Revolutionaries do offer a sincere, heartfelt and genuine apology”.

The onus is now on all political parties, governments and observers to ensure that the democratic wishes of the Irish people are upheld.

“The will of the Irish people is clear. It is now time to silence the guns”.

Organisations which are on ceasefire are entitled to the early release of its members under the Good Friday Agreement, which says that all political prisoners convicted of offences committed before April 1998 should be released.

Dessie O’Hare demands his right to release under the Good Friday Agreement.

The Irish government has refused to free him in contravention of the Good Friday Agreement even though Dessie was a leader of the INLA at the time of the kidnap. Indeed the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform, Mr John O’Donoghue, has already said, “He is a qualifying prisoner”. The GFA in its entirety includes the early release of ‘qualifying prisoners’ meaning those prisoners whose organisations are ‘maintaining a complete and unequivocal cease-fire’. Dessie O’Hare is such a prisoner who has been denied the benefits of the early release scheme as laid down in Annex B, Section 2 of the Agreement which the Irish electorate voted for.

Dessie has been demonised by the media and by certain politicians who labelled him the “Border Fox”. He has been seen by experts at the request of the Irish Government in an attempt to keep him imprisoned on the grounds of his mental state. They could find no such grounds for his continuing incarceration but this was an attempt to emulate the tactics of Stalinist USSR in labelling opponents of that regime ‘mad’.

Dessie’s “crime”, if ‘crime’ it was, was to be an active Republican.

His co-accused, Edward Hogan and Fergal Toal, have already been released under the Agreement even though they were convicted of the same offence.

Dessie is being victimised, discriminated against and demonised by the state authorities. And yet his activities were no different from those of hundreds of others released under the GFA.

Desmond O’Hare was born on 26 October 1956 and comes from a strongly Republican family. Dessie’s Grandmother did six months in Holloway Gaol for “keeping Republicans”. His father and six of his uncles were interned between 1940 and 1944. One uncle died while interned on the Isle of Mann.

Dessie became active in the Republican struggle from the age of 16 and one of his Officer Commanders in the IRA was John Francis Green, later assassinated by Captain Nairac.

Dessie O’Hare is no different from hundreds if not thousands of Republicans. He played his part in the struggle. It is now time he was released.

A MESSAGE FROM DESSIE O’HARE

I can only speak truthfully and accurately concerning my own case where the Irish Government have failed to implement the Good Friday Agreement, ie their decision to arbitrarily exclude me from the early release scheme. The scheme was set out in the GFA, for the phased release of all Political Prisoners, and a completion time scale of two years meant that any POWs remaining after June 2000 would automatically be released. The Irish and British Governments passed appropriate laws to facilitate the releases and began processing the POWs - which basically went on the lines of first in first out.

The British released almost immediately those Prisoners who had served out most of their sentence, then prisoners who were deemed the least threat to the Peace Process were released and after that they began releasing high risk prisoners and finally they began releasing those who had just begun their sentences. These phased releases continued for two years until the cut off date (28-06-02) was reached,and on that day all the remaining political prisoners were released en masse. But I wasn’t released on that date with all the remaining prisoners, so I immediately began legal proceedings to contest the legality of my detention, citing that under the Good Friday Agreement I should have been released by June 2000 and was therefore illegally detained.

The legal proceedings went by way of judicial review. Initially the government said that I failed to apply for release under the GFA So when this was done, they shifted the goalposts and said I wasn’t a POW proper! So when my application to rejoin the INLA wing in the Prison was accepted, they then shifted the goalposts again by saying my case could not be processed because I wasn’t speaking (I had taken a yogic vow of silence and hadn’t spoken for six years). When I made a forty page written submission, they simply rejected it and said I would have to speak! So I spoke, which led them to shift the goalposts yet again and this time they stooped to Siberian tactics and said I wasn’t complying with the process by refusing to allow a psychiatric report. So this forced me to acquiesce and allow a psychiatric report (which resulted in a clean bill of health). Then two months after that report was made they ordered another one, and when that psychiatric report failed to turn up anything detrimental that they could present in court, they then ordered a different psychiatrist! And when this report was also a favourable one, they then ordered a fourth report from another doctor, this time their own clinical psychologist from the Dept of Justice and after exhaustive interviews conducted over three days with Dr Des O’Mahony, I received a further healthy Compus Mentis report. The disgraceful and malicious intent of those who put me through all these hoops is all the more accentuated by the very fact that both Republican and Loyalist Prisoners who were convicted of very serious crimes including capital murder were all released under the terms of the Good Friday Agreement and not a single one of them was submitted to the demands that have been placed on me, Anyhow, after a years protracted legal wrangling in the courts the then Minister for Justice John O’Donohue officially recognised me as a Qualifying Prisoner under the terms of the Good Friday Agreement.

The Governments started releasing the first POWs under the terms of the GFA four years ago and I am beginning my 23rd year behind these prison bars. I have been in this jail continuously since 1979 (with one years exception 1987) and in all of them 22 years I haven’t been given a single days temporary release despite many family tragedies and the death of my father (RIP)

The double standards prove there is no parity of esteem being shown in my case, every spurious excuse the Dept has used to deny me my freedom has been deemed null and void; yet the Dept continues to hold me as a Political Prisoner when most other Qualifying prisoners have long been released. Even my Co-accused who were giving the same sentenses as me have long been released under the terms of the Good Friday Agreement.

Reneging on the decision to release me only adds insult to the spirit of the GFA, the very same spirit of peace and reconciliation that was born in the prisons, surely someone can muster up the courage to release one of the last qualifying Prisoners,

Yours in solidarity

Qualifying Political Prisoner
Dessie O’Hare
Portlaois Prison 30th-07-02

SUPPORT THE CAMPAIGN

You can support the release of Dessie O’Hare by email - copy and paste the protest letters below and send to the email addresses listed.

Within Ireland, supporters can email the Irish Justice Minister demanding the release of Dessie by emailing: minister@justice.ie

To:
Irish Justice Minister,
72-76, St. Stephens Green,
Dublin 2, Ireland.

Re: Release Dessie O’Hare

Dear Minister

I am writing in protest at the continued incarceration of Political Prisoner of War Dessie O’Hare.

To date Dessie O’Hare has spent over 13 years in Portlaoise gaol, Ireland however under strand three of the ‘Belfast Agreement’ its clearly states that: “all prisoners whose organisations are on ceasefire will benefit from the early release scheme.”

As Dessie O’Hare is a recognised Irish National Liberation Army (I.N.L.A) political prisoner of war which is an organisation currently on ceasefire and as the early release scheme is afforded to all other political prisoners who qualify, I therefore believe Dessie O’Hare MUST benefit immediately from the stated “early release scheme”’ just as others prisoners of war have following the formation of the ‘Belfast Agreement’ rightfully have.

I strongly object to the continued incarceration of Political Prisoner of War Dessie O’Hare and demand his immediate release from incarceration.

Yours sincerely

Internationally, supporters can email Irish embassies demanding the release of Dessie by emailing: peter.macaulay@db.com, bbrady@nvbell.net, IrishCGSF@aol.com, irishconchicago@aol.com, irlcons@aol.com, congenny@aol.com, embirlus@aol.com, Irlun@Undp.org, mission.ireland@itu.ch, ireland@superonline.com, irish.embassy@swipnet.se, embajada.irlanda@ran.es, pretoria@iveagh.irlgov.ie, mgrperu@pol.com.pe, hibernia@online.no, info@irish-embassy.demon.nl, office@irish.embassy.lu, telaviv@iveagh.irlgov.ie, ireland@ndf.vsnl.net.in, irembparis@wanadoo.fr, embassy.ireland@ireland.pp.fi, irishemb@rite.com, irlemb_dk@yahoo.com, irishembassy@iol.cz, irishembassy@cytanet.com.cy, Ireland@public3.bta.net.cn, aylwin@netline.cl, emb.ireland@sympatico.ca, vienna@iveagh.irlgov.ie, irishemb@cyberone.com.au, info@irlanda.org.ar, minister@justice.ie

To: Irish Ambassador
Re: Release Dessie O’Hare

Dear Ambassador

I am writing in protest at the continued incarceration of Political Prisoner of War Dessie O’Hare.

To date Dessie O’Hare has spent over 13 years in Portlaoise gaol, Ireland however under strand three of the ‘Belfast Agreement’ its clearly states that: “all prisoners whose organisations are on ceasefire will benefit from the early release scheme.”

As Dessie O’Hare is a recognised Irish National Liberation Army (I.N.L.A) political prisoner of war which is an organisation currently on ceasefire and as the early release scheme is afforded to all other political prisoners who qualify, I therefore believe Dessie O’Hare MUST benefit immediately from the stated “early release scheme”’ just as others prisoners of war have following the formation of the ‘Belfast Agreement’ rightfully have.

The Irish Justice Minister of the 26 country administration, to date has already been on record that Dessie O’Hare ‘is a qualifying prisoner’, so the question everyone must ask is, why is Dessie still incarcerated?

I strongly object to the continued incarceration of Political Prisoner of War Dessie O’Hare and demand his immediate release from incarceration.

Yours sincerely

© 2005 Irish Republican News