Lengthy sentence for 1997 IRA attack as legacy issues stalled

paulcampbell.jpg

A County Tyrone man has been jailed over a Provisional IRA action more than two decades ago. Paul Campbell from Coalisland was sentenced on Tuesday to seven and a half years in connection with an attack in the town in 1997.

Mr Campbell, who was 18 at the time and is now 41, was found guilty in the absence of a jury, by a special ‘Diplock’ court.

Judge David McFarland, the senior judge, had said that he was “sure” that Mr Campbell had assisted IRA Volunteer Gareth Doris, who was shot in an SAS ambush while preparing to mount an attack on the RUC base in Coalisland.

The incident took place one year before the Good Friday peace deal was signed, a fact which the judges at Belfast Crown Court chose to ignore.

They agreed with a prosecutor who claimed the fact that Mr Campbell should be eligible for early release under the Good Friday Agreement “was not a matter for this court but for the Parole Commissioners”.

LEWIS MEETS SINN FEIN

Meanwhile, the new British Direct Ruler has not denied his government will introduce an amnesty for British soldiers facing prosecution for war crimes.

Brandon Lewis was asked if he supported an amnesty for British soldiers during a visit to Derry on Monday. He said only that British Prime Minister Boris Johnson wanted to make sure there are no “vexatious claims about veterans”.

“I am not going into the detail at the moment, we will come forward as a government with an outline of what we want to do in due course,” he said.

The British government has refused to say why a law is needed to prevent vexatious prosecutions against soldiers, given there is already a legal framework to prevent that for general prosecutions.

A deal reached in January to restore powersharing at Stormont includes a pledge to implement stalled mechanisms to advance new investigations into state killings. Under the deal, the British government is obliged to pass legacy legislation within 100 days.

But Mr Lewis has said the British government’s delivery on those proposals would only come in conjunction with measures to protect British killer soldiers.

In a meeting on Friday, Sinn Féin’s Michelle O’Neill told Lewis that his government must live up to its commitments.

“The fact is we have had no detail from the British movement on the legacy legislation that it committed to bringing forward,” she said.

Urgent Appeal

The current pandemic is creating financial difficulties for many news organisations, and we are not immune. We are low on resources and need your extra support now to help us through this difficult period.

Please help by making a contribution. Even one pound a month can make a big difference for us.

Your contribution can be made with a credit or debit card by clicking below. Thank you. Go raibh míle maith agat.

© 2020 Irish Republican News