Irish Republican News · June 30, 2005
[Irish Republican News]

[Irish Republican News]
FREE SEAN KELLY

The heavily pregnant partner of jailed Belfast republican Sean Kelly has called on the Dublin government to do more to get the father of her children released.

Sean Kelly was returned to jail ten days ago amid claims that he had violated the terms of his release under the 1998 Good Friday peace Agreement.

British Direct Ruler Peter Hain, relying on intelligence provided to him by Special Branch police, claimed that Mr Kelly had remained involved in unspecified illegal activity.

Nationalists have held protests calling on the British government to release the prominent north Belfast republican from jail.

Other former republican POWs released under the Good Friday Agreement fear they may be next to be sent back to jail as British authorities pile on pressure for an IRA move to stand down and disarm.

Sinn Féin described the decision to return the 33-year-old to prison as “stupid”. Local representative Gerry Kelly spoke of how the decision had angered republicans.

He said: “There is widespread anger at Peter Hain’s capitulation to the demands of unionists and those opposed to the peace process within the Northern Ireland Office by interning a pro-agreement republican who has done much to reduce interface tensions.

“This was a stupid decision that means that many republicans, particularly ex-political prisoners who play such a positive role in managing difficulties at interfaces, are in a vulnerable position.

“They fear that they could be victimised in the same way as Sean Kelly if they continue to contribute to effectively managing those tensions.”

Mother of three Geraldine Friel, who is expecting her fourth child in October, called on 26-County Prime Minister, Taoiseach Bertie Ahern to put real pressure on the British government to secure the 33-year-old’s release.

Ahern had said his government would look into the matter. Irish senators Martin Mansergh and Maurice Hayes have also questioned the motives behind Mr Kelly’s return to jail.

Mr Kelly had only been in Maghaberry prison for four days when he was threatened by a unionist paramilitary prisoner. The mother of his children says she fears for his life inside.

“Sean is in a lot of danger in jail and I worry about him all the time,” said Ms Friel.

“The children are very scared. I let my nine-year-old know almost immediately that he had been jailed but I didn’t tell my five and three-year-olds for a couple of days. I pretended to them that he had gone on holiday.

“It was tough breaking the news to them, one of the hardest things that I have done.”

Ms Friel said she believed there had been a focused attempt to keep Mr Kelly from speaking to or seeing his family.

“Sean has been in jail for 12 days now and, in that time, I have seen him once and had just two telephone calls.

“The kids haven’t seen him at all. It’s as if the authorities don’t want him to get in touch with his family,” she said.

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© 2005 Irish Republican News