Protests are being organised nationwide in support of Dundalk republican Liam Campbell, who is facing extradition to Lithuania on arms charges despite never having been to the country. Former political prisoner and recent internee Tony Taylor calls for the mainstream parties to support the campaign to stop his extradition.
I have watched with interest and, indeed, with dismay, recent developments in this country. As per usual, the tools of injustice are deployed on a regular basis against Irish people, directed and enforced by British intelligence and their police force, by MI5’s own admission.
This is the same British intelligence whose operations in Ireland has been as horrendous as it is infamous. Indeed, on a global basis the innocent lives, their lies and intrigue have cost, can be counted in millions in places like Iraq. During the course of Irish history, constitutional nationalism has provided varying degrees of cover for injustices perpetrated by the British and their henchmen in their police force of the day, be it the RIC, RUC or the PSNI.
Sinn Féin promised the Nationalist and Republican communities it was elected to represent to enter the system of governance in Stormont to effect radical change and deliver proper accountable policing. However, on a daily basis we now witness British security measures akin to our recent past namely, Stop and search, house raids, assaults on children, de facto internment (including my own case) all have exposed this promise to be a complete failure.
It is with all this in mind, that the recent case of Liam Campbell has caused me particular concern. This man has spent four years in prison, in isolation, waiting on an MI5 attempt to extradite him to Lithuania, a country with an appalling human rights record. When this attempt failed, MI5 turned to their old allies in the Free State establishment to try and have Liam Campbell extradited. Recalling Sinn Féin’s vigorous opposition in the past to extradition, and the fact that a Belfast judge wouldn’t extradite Liam Campbell, it is with astonishment I view their refusal to oppose the extradition of Liam. During my internment, Sinn Féin and the SDLP supported the campaign for my release, I welcomed this.
Therefore, I and many Republicans are extremely confused by their refusal to extend this support to Liam Campbell’s campaign. Why is Sinn Féin turning a blind eye to this injustice and others such as no longer opposing the Free State Special Criminal Court. This ‘seismic shift’ is particularly galling as they have often censured the SDLP and the Free State in the past, calling them lickspittles, lackeys and collaborators for taking this position. Now, their deceit and hypocrisy has placed them firmly in the same bracket. The SDLP, the so-called party of civil rights, find themselves in the ludicrous situation of opposing Liam’s extradition, in one vote, and then weeks later withdrawing their support and indeed backing a unionist motion to speed up his extradition to Lithuania. The conduct of Sinn Féin and the SDLP in this instance is an undisputed case of betraying their core principles regarding human rights and the ending of political policing.
Surely the time is now long overdue for our political parties to hold the British intelligence services and their forces to account.
Stop the extradition of Liam Campbell and it is time to stop inappropriate and aggressive political policing of the Nationalist and Republican communities.