Republican News · Thursday 23 October 1997

[An Phoblacht]

Extradition aimed at undermining peace process


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 warrant.''

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 April 1993.

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

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