Republican News · Thursday 31 August 2000

[An Phoblacht]

Welcome home Brian

BRIAN KEENAN'S sisters are right. The welcome home for their brother is huge, warm and genuine. It's so deep that no one even begrudged Gerry Collins his bit of reflected glory after the state jet touched down at Dublin Airport. Ireland breathed a sigh of relief when it saw the Belfastman finally step off the aircraft. Nobody minded if anyone else also got into the picture.

But the things which secured his release and particularly the small green document which kept him alive four-and-a-half years, need to be talked about. For over 400 people in Iraq and Kuwait, that Irish passport is assuming a very great importance.

The document signifies Irish citizenship. It may have been issued by a Dublin government which only represents part Ireland and which has abandoned many of its citizens, but it is also issued by a neutral state which aspires to something it testifies to is a deeply political matter.

Councillors Frank Millar and Sammy Wilson of Belfast know that. Millar condemned ``lukewamr Protestants'' who have the gall to support Irish unity. He told Keenan: ''We don't want you.'' Wilson, who has often been feted in Dublin, made claims about `dirty deals' to gain his release. Brian Keenan was freed because, in the last couple of years, Shi'ite militants in Beirut and the Iranian government were persuaded that Ireland is neutral. Now Charlie Haughey has stated that Irish neutrality has nothing to do with the Gulf crisis.

Welcome home Brian. Your passport and your freedom mean a lot more than might seem at first glance.

Phoblacht, 30 August 1990

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