Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams has launched a legal bid to overturn two historical convictions for attempting to escape from Long Kesh internment camp.
Mr Adams has started appeal proceedings over incidents which occurred while he was interned without trial in Long Kesh in the 1970s. He is appealing convictions he received in 1975 in two juryless Diplock Court trials, both tried by a single judge acting without a jury, relating to two attempts to escape.
Mr Adams was one of thousands of people, almost all of them innocent Irish nationalists, to be held without trial by the British during the early 1970s. Many suffered interrogation and abuse.
On Christmas Eve 1973, according to British government files, Mr Adams was one of three republican prisoners captured by warders while trying to cut their way to freedom through the perimeter fencing. In July 1974, he was seized over an attempt to escape by switching with a visitor to the camp.
He was subsequently sentenced to 18 months’ imprisonment. He has now lodged papers with the Court of Appeal in an attempt to have the convictions overturned. A full appeal hearing is due to take place in the autumn.
DUP MP Jeffrey Donaldson claimed the legal case was an attempt by Mr Adams to rewrite his own history.
“I think that Gerry Adams is living in denial because of course he will not come clean and admit he was in the IRA,” he said. “He’s basically turned his back on the organisation and his past involvement.”
Commenting, Sinn Fein’s Gerry Kelly pointed out that it was unionist politicians who had called for internment without trial in 1971.
“In 2015 when 19 Protestants took their case to court over being interned, unionist politicians did not complain. It is a touch hypocritical for unionists now to complain that Gerry Adams is taking a court case.”