By Helen McClafferty
On February 18, 2011, after almost 4 years of a politically motivated arrest and trial, Gerry McGeough’s case ended with a “guilty” verdict handed down by a British diplock court. McGeough is the first Irish republican to be sentenced under the GFA on troubles related charges dating back over 30 years. He is now in Maghaberry prison awaiting sentencing.
For several years, prior to McGeough’s arrest, he was living a peaceful existence with his wife and children in Tyrone until he decided to run in the Assembly Elections as an Independent candidate on an anti-PSNI platform in March of 2007. That is when Gerry’s life took a change for the worse and it has been a living nightmare for him and his family ever since. Gerry was arrested at the count center, following the poll, and he has been vindictively persecuted by the British crown ever since.
In contrast, the British government has operated a secret scheme granting royal pardons or immunity from prosecution to hand-picked ex-IRA members and Loyalists wanted for killings, bombings and other paramilitary activities. No members of the British forces are being charged or tried for their part in the 1969-98 North of Ireland conflict (the soldiers responsible for “Bloody Sunday” including those British/Orange forces behind the Dublin-Monaghan bombings).
In their obsessive need to prosecute and imprison Gerry, the British turned international political asylum refugee laws on their head by using as their chief “evidence” alleged political asylum application papers from Sweden (which are normally subjected to a 50-year confidentiality protection clause under Swedish law). The move was the first time such documents were used against a republican and now has widespread implications for the entire concept of political asylum.
To pretend that McGeough’s arrest, his almost 4 year on-going legal saga, and now his ‘guilty’ verdict, has anything to do with “justice,” is pathetic. He is being discriminated against for purely political reasons and there was a determined effort to railroad him into prison at the highest political level.
McGeough’s attorneys have filed a request with the NIO seeking a “pardon” for McGeough. People are being asked to contact their local politicians to ask them to ensure that the NIO treat McGeough equally, the same as others have been treated since the GFA, and grant him a pardon. For further details, updates and history on the case, please go to the ‘freegerry.com’ web site.