A republican facing extradition for questioning about the death of a British Army sergeant in England 17 years ago has accused the authorities of “cherry-picking” who they try to extradite.
Anthony Gorman, who is living in County Cavan, said he suspected Sinn Fein’s influence prevented similar action being taken against former Provisional IRA members wanted for offences in Britain.
Gorman, an ex-INLA prisoner, has said he represents no threat to the state and had previously been involved in direct talks with the then Taoiseach, Bertie Ahern, about ways of cementing the peace process after the Good Friday Agreement.
Gorman, originally from Armagh but now living in Bailieborough, is due in Dublin High Court next week when a date will be set for his extradition hearing.
If he loses, Gorman will become the first republican since the peace process extradited for an offence committed during the Troubles.
Gorman, who is on #30,000 bail, is “strongly challenging” his extradition. An attempt to extradite him from the 26 Counties in 1994 failed when the court ruled that the attack was political. However, the law has now been changed to prevent such arguments.
Gorman said: “A few months ago, the British dropped plans to extradite Pearse McAuley and Nessan Quinlivan from the Republic. I’m delighted these two men weren’t extradited but I can’t understand why there’s one rule for them and another for me.
“Perhaps Sinn Fein’s political influence prevents their people being extradited whereas I don’t have anyone with clout behind me. This cherry-picking is unfair. The whole issue should have been sorted out by those who negotiated the Good Friday Agreement.”
McAuley and Quinlivan are wanted in Britain on conspiracy to murder and explosives charges, escaping from Brixton prison in 1991, and wounding with intent. However, in a statement in August, the Crown Prosecution Service said there was “no longer a realistic prospect of conviction”.
Gorman said: “I see no difference between this and my case. Even if I am convicted in Britain, I’ll be eligible for release under the Good Friday Agreement. These legal proceedings will cost a fortune and for what?”
Gorman was freed from Portlaoise prison in 2000 after serving a five-year sentence for arms possession. He said he’d been constantly in work as a welder since. “I haven’t claimed a penny in benefit. I’ve got married, settled into a normal family life ... but I’m not being allowed to leave the past behind. I beat the previous extradition attempt in court but the British just won’t let it go. That sort of behaviour makes republicans disillusioned with the Good Friday Agreement.”
While finishing his sentence in Portlaoise, Gorman says he was part of an INLA delegation which met Bertie Ahern and Martin Manseragh in Leinster House in 1999. “I was the second in command on the INLA wing. Myself and the OC were released from the jail for the meeting. We talked positively about the release of INLA prisoners under the terms of the Agreement, and how to make political progress.”