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August 06, 2005

Colombia 3 Will Not Damage Process

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News about Ireland & the Irish

IO 08/06/05 Colombia 3 Will Not Damage Peace Process - SF
BB 08/06/05 Colombia 3 'Matter For Courts'
BT 08/06/05 Colombia 4 Send Them Back
PD 08/06/05 IRA Boldly Moves Toward Peace In N. Ireland
BT 08/06/05 The Curious Case Of Sean Kelly
BT 08/06/05 This Life: The Churches And That IRA Statement
BT 08/06/05 Viewpoint: 'Loyalism', Feuds And Lawlessness


Colombia Three Will Not Damage Peace Process - SF
2005-08-06 19:50:01+01

Sinn Féin claimed today that the return of the Colombia
Three to Ireland will not damage the peace process.

It emerged yesterday that Niall Connolly, Martin McCauley
and James Monaghan, who were sentenced to 17 years in jail
in Columbia last December, are now back in Ireland.

The men were convicted of training Marxist FARC rebels but
disappeared while on bail.

The DUP has reacted angrily to the re-appearance of the
men. However, Sinn Féin's vice president Pat Doherty today
rejected claims that this could damage relations with

Meanwhile, according to the latest Sunday Business Post
opinion Poll, voter attitude towards Sinn Féin is

Almost half of those surveyed said they would be happy the
see the party in a coalition government.

This was the opinion of voters before news about the
Columbian Three broke.

The Business Post's political correspondent Pat Leahy says
it could lead to several more seats for the party in the
next General Election.


Colombia 3 'Matter For Courts'

Irish Prime Minister Bertie Ahern has said his government
had no prior knowledge of the return of three republicans
sentenced in Colombia.

Niall Connolly, Martin McCauley and James Monaghan went
missing while on bail in December and have returned to the
Irish Republic.

Colombia is demanding the extradition of the three,
sentenced to 17 years in jail for training Marxist rebels.

Mr Ahern said that would be a matter for the courts alone.

Speaking in County Kerry he said the men's situation was
never part of political discussions with Sinn Fein, and
there had been no deal done for their return.

Colombia's vice-president said Irish authorities had a
"legal and moral obligation" to return the republicans.

Currently, the two countries do not have an extradition

'No deal'

Colombian Vice-President Francisco Santos said in a
statement: "Irish Prime Minister Bertie Ahern must
demonstrate his country's commitment to the global fight
against terrorism."

The Colombian police are believed to be preparing an
extradition warrant for the trio.

Unionists greeted the men's return to the Irish Republic
with anger, but it was welcomed by Sinn Fein.

Irish state broadcaster RTE reported the trio had returned
in recent days.

Jim Monaghan, interviewed by RTE at a secret location,
denied that any deal had been done with the British or
Irish governments following the IRA's statement last week
in which it said it was ending its campaign of violence.

He said he did not consider himself to be "on the run" and
would not be hiding from Irish police.

Monaghan would not say how the three men got back to the
Republic of Ireland, but that they had got "a lot of help
from a lot of people" and that he would not endanger them.

He said he hoped the Irish government would not place any
obstacles in the way of the three men staying in the
country, adding it would be "very remiss to send anyone
back to Colombia".

We hope that the international police system will hand
them over to Colombia

Francisco Santos

Colombian Vice President

He said the men would be seeking legal advice about the
possibility of extradition back to Colombia.

Intelligence sources believe the three Irishmen left via
Venezuela before going to Cuba, where Niall Connolly had
been Sinn Fein's representative, BBC correspondent Jeremy
McDermott reported from Colombia.

Mr Santos said: "They have a judicial sentence over their
heads and we sincerely hope that they pay jail for it.

"We hope that the international police system will hand
them over to Colombia, even though that's difficult because
there's no extradition treaty between Ireland and

'Serious issues'

Irish deputy prime minister Mary Harney said there were
"very serious issues to be addressed, seeing as they were
travelling on false passports".

And a Northern Ireland Office spokesman said: "We have only
just become aware of the presence of these men in the
Republic of Ireland.

"That is a matter for the Irish authorities. If they enter
the UK, an extradition request will be dealt with without

The men, who had been accused of being IRA members, were
arrested in Bogota in August 2001.

They were found guilty of travelling on false passports, in
June 2004, but were acquitted of training Revolutionary
Armed Forces of Colombia (Farc) guerrillas.

That decision was reversed after an appeal by the Colombian
attorney general and they were sentenced to 17-year terms.

A judge had ordered the men to remain in the country
pending the outcome of the appeal.

An international arrest warrant was issued for them after
they disappeared.

McCauley, 41, is from Lurgan in County Armagh, Monaghan,
58, is from County Donegal and Connolly, 38, is from

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2005/08/06 16:38:08 GMT


Send Them Back

Colombia demands Ahern hands over three Irish fugitives

By Claire Regan
06 August 2005

Colombia was today demanding that the Irish authorities
extradite the three men convicted of training Marxist
terrorists who have now resurfaced in the Republic.

The Colombia Three, who went missing in December before
being sentenced to 17 years in jail, sparked unionist fury
after it was revealed they had secretly returned to their

Taoiseach Bertie Ahern is under increasing pressure to send
Niall Connolly, Martin McCauley and James Monaghan back
after Colombia's Vice-President said he had a "legal and
moral obligation" to return the republicans even though the
two countries do not have an extradition treaty.

Francisco Santos demanded Mr Ahern "demonstrate his
country's commitment to the global fight against

He said: "A Colombian court issued its verdict that
confirmed what we believed from the start: that they were
three IRA terrorists, explosives experts, who came to
Colombia to train the Marxist rebels."

The trio's reappearance has plunged the political process
into fresh crisis amid suspicion that they returned to
Ireland because they would not be deported in the light of
last week's IRA statement.

Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny demanded an immediate statement
from Mr Ahern on the circumstances surrounding the return.

One of the men, James Monaghan, told RTE that no deal had
been done with the British or Irish authorities to pave the
way for the three to return.


IRA Boldly Moves Toward Peace In N. Ireland

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Pat Kempton

The July 30 editorial "The IRA's historic call" was right
in stating, "There hasn't been a more promising moment
since the 1998 Good Friday peace agreement."

The Irish Republican Army's courageous decision wasn't made
on the spur of the moment or in reaction to the tragic
events in London. It was the result of two decades of hard
work and dedication by Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness,
the leaders of Sinn Fein.

Everyone, from government leaders around the world to Pope
Benedict XVI, who warmly welcomed the "beautiful news," has
applauded the republicans' commitment to peace.

The only negative response came from the unionist parties.
Not surprising. They never wanted the agreement to succeed
and, with the help of the British and Irish governments,
have used the existence of the IRA as an excuse to block

Well, now their excuse is gone.

Prime Minister Tony Blair and Taoiseach Bertie Ahern have
no reason to stall any longer. They must deliver all
aspects of the agreement, restore the political
institutions and continue police reform.

And Blair must tell his British army, which has twice as
many soldiers based in Ireland as in Iraq, that it's time
to go back home.

The IRA's bold step requires a bold response. The Irish
people deserve to live in peace.

Pat Kempton

Kempton is public relations officer for Irish Northern Aid.


The Curious Case Of Sean Kelly

The Government wanted him in jail, then they wanted him out
again. Chris Thornton reviews the case of the Shankill

By Chris Thornton
06 August 2005

After Sean Kelly was brought to the Royal Victoria Hospital
12 years ago, mutilated by the bomb he'd carried, he was a
barely living, breathing, bloody ethical problem for some
of those who were expected to treat him. Saving the life of
a multiple murderer as his victims were being carried in -
or out - of the hospital gave some of them pause for
thought. For others it wasn't: as they saw it, they were
pros and Sean Kelly was a patient. He was treated the same
as everyone else.

So Sean Kelly's wounds turned to scars, and he was able to
stand trial for murdering nine of the 10 people who died in
the IRA blast at Frizzell's chip shop on the Shankill Road,
underneath the headquarters of the absent UDA. The tenth,
Thomas Begley, had helped Kelly carry the bomb into the
shop inside what looked like a cooler of fish. The bomb had
not distinguished between shoppers and bombers. It treated
them all the same.

At his trial, Kelly was found guilty. He spent six years
and seven months in custody. But the conflict was closing
down: he was released in 2000, the same as the other
prisoners remaining in the Maze.

But, in June, Sean Kelly was under scrutiny again -
returned to jail in disputed circumstances and released
again after 40 days inside, again in controversial
circumstances. He was by turns a wronged man and a danger
to society. Either he was arrested and held without cause
or he breached the terms of his release and got away with

One way or another, this time, Sean Kelly was singled out
for special treatment.

The story of Sean Kelly's summer begins and ends with the
Northern Ireland Office. It was from inside the NIO, or a
part of it, that a request for a report on his behaviour
came. That report led to his arrest. Later it was the NIO,
in the person of Secretary of State Peter Hain, that
stifled that same report. That led to Kelly's release.

Kelly was arrested at a home in north Belfast in the early
hours of June 18, as the rubble from rioting after the Tour
of the North parade still lay spread across streets around
Ardoyne. For allegedly violating the terms of his release
he was taken to Maghaberry prison. Mr Hain said then that
"Sean Kelly has become re-involved in terrorism and is a
danger to others and, while he is at liberty, is likely to
commit further offences".

The arrest appeared timely: just two days earlier DUP MPs
Jeffrey Donaldson and Nigel Dodds had been complaining in
the House of Commons that Kelly was rioting with impunity.
Mr Dodds said that the bomber had been part of a group of
Celtic fans who marked the end of the Scottish football
season on May 22 by clashing with Rangers supporters.

The connection seemed clear enough - Kelly was tied to
rioting, a breach of the terms of his release and enough to
return him to prison right in the aftermath of another
riot. But that was quickly ruled out: it soon emerged that
the PSNI had not been investigating Kelly in relation to
street disturbances. A police letter to UUP MLA Michael
Copeland five days before the arrest said: "Initial
inquiries have established that, while Kelly has been seen
during incidents of civil disorder, there is nothing to
suggest he was breaking the law at the time. No further
investigations are being proposed at this time."

At that stage, the NIO said Mr Hain's decision to order
Kelly's arrest was "based on information provided by a
variety of sources over a period of time."

Sinn Fein began disputing the arrest almost immediately,
and the letter to Mr Copeland was cited as an indication
that the accusation against Kelly was trumped up.

But police have insisted that information provided to Mr
Hain did exist. The PSNI also told the Policing Board their
report on Kelly was compiled at the request of the Prison
Service, which is under the direction of the NIO. The
Prison Service said it asked for the report because it
became "aware of information" that called into question
Kelly's "suitability to be on licence". The service won't
say how they became aware of the information that
ultimately led to Kelly's arrest.

The intervening weeks saw Sinn Fein protest at Kelly's
imprisonment, saying he had been interned, with Mr Hain
insisting he had been right to imprison him. The question
was supposed to be decided by the Sentence Review
Commissioners. In that sense, Kelly's case was not unique:
more than a dozen of the 447 prisoners released under the
Good Friday Agreement have been returned to prison. They
were mainly loyalists, but in each case it was up to the
Commission to decide whether they had breached their
release licence.

But Kelly's release is almost certainly unique - his is the
first where the alleged breach of his release conditions
has been nullified by other events, after the fact.

On July 27, Mr Hain freed Kelly "on the expectation of the
forthcoming IRA statement". On the website Slugger O'Toole,
commentator Mick Fealty noted drily that Kelly's detention
was looking "more like a good old fashioned Irish hostage


This Life: The Churches And That IRA Statement

By Alf McCreary
06 August 2005

Few topics are being currently analysed in such depth as
the Provisional IRA ceasefire, but amid the hubbub the
voices of the Churches have been somewhat crowded out -
despite the blanket coverage of Archbishop Sean Brady's
speech at the West Belfast Festival.

This is a pity because the Churches as institutions have
earned the right to be heard loudly and clearly.

It is they who have had to bury the dead, to comfort the
relatives and to condemn the violence - all of which they
have done most commendably throughout the troubles.

However, it is no easy task to summarise their reactions to
the IRA statement, because each has its own angle.

Some Methodist feathers have been ruffled unintentionally
by my assertion that their welcome for the statement was
just a little over-fulsome.

This, of course, is strictly a matter of opinion, and
others may well disagree with me. No-one can ever make a
statement which will please everybody, and I'm not
personally criticising the Methodist President, the Rev
Desmond Bain or any individuals as such.

However, I'm not clear that the IRA statement had all that
much "breadth and clarity" as the Methodists claimed, and a
great many questions were left unanswered. Equally, only
time will tell if they are right and that it promises to be
a watershed... or not.

Yet the admirable Methodists were not alone, in my opinion,
in being a little over-fulsome.

So, too, was Archbishop Brady in his important speech in
west Belfast when he claimed that the IRA statement was
"potentially the most powerful, significant and welcome
move towards freedom in Ireland to have emerged from any
paramilitary organisation since the beginning of the

The key word here is "potentially", and we have all heard
the IRA's promises before now.

Allowing for the need for politicians to help Messrs Adams
and McGuinness to placate some of their wilder men, for
which they deserve some political credit, I thought that
both Tony Blair and Bertie Ahern were also a little too
fulsome in their statements - and the British Government
has certainly moved with undue haste towards
demilitarisation. Why all the hurry?

The Presbyterian Church has said little so far, apart from
giving a cautious welcome to the statement, with an
indication that there may be more later. The Presbyterians
are sometimes slow enough to make up their minds, but when
they do so, they are usually worth heeding.

The Rev Ian Paisley has neatly summarised most unionist and
Protestant concerns. Everyone wants peace, but the
unionists have been repeatedly let down by republicans, and
the scars still show. Perhaps it is time for all of us to
steady up a bit, to be thankful for what has been achieved,
and to take things a bit more slowly.

Archbishop Robin Eames, as he often does, managed to strike
a neat balance when he said: "Unionism must recognise that
the IRA statement is a significant document. It should not
be dismissed easily - but its sincerity remains to be

He also warned the British that "there are moral principles
which should supersede political expediency" - and
straightaway they proceeded, in an act of gross and cynical
expediency, to release Shankill bomber Sean Kelly.

Whatever the churches' views, in a post-violence era they
will all face a very different role.

As Archbishop Eames has often noted, they will be no longer
metaphorically following ambulances, but rather trying to
become even more relevant to modern society. And what
better example could there have been than the recent
reassurances from Ballymena Presbyterians to the Harryville
Catholics threatened by loyalist thuggery? That told us
more about the practicality of Christianity than a dozen
carefully-crafted church statements.


Viewpoint: 'Loyalism', Feuds And Lawlessness

RIOT CONTROL: No support for 'self-destructive violence'

06 August 2005

Anyone who doubts the evil influence of paramilitarism in
the loyalist community has only to see and hear the rioting
in north Belfast that followed arrests in connection with
the UVF-LVF feud. A week after the IRA statement promising
an end to their armed campaign, the loyalists have proved
they are still a major threat to law and order.

Just as republicans confronted the police in Ardoyne last
month, injuring 100, the loyalists were equally violent on
the Crumlin road. Another 36 police were injured, as UVF
elements reacted to six arrests in connection with the
murderous feud, which has so far caused three deaths.

The rioting recalls the early days of the troubles, when it
was Shankill Road loyalists, not republicans, who were
responsible for the first RUC death. Has nothing been
learned, or are the criminal empires controlled by the
paramilitaries so large that nowadays they are willing to
take on the police or rival gangs to preserve them?

Already there are complaints about police heavy-handedness,
accusations as predictable in loyalist as in republican
riots. When quantities of petrol bombs have been prepared,
and young people are organised to hijack and burn passing
vehicles, police must react to restore law and order.

With the restraints in place on police today, it is hard to
imagine that anyone would deliberately overstep the mark.
When the results of an investigation are known, here or
anywhere else, they should be made public, allowing people
to judge for themselves.

It has to be said, yet again, that nothing could be more
damaging to whatever cause the paramilitaries pretend to
uphold than the sight of loyalists involved in mayhem. The
people whom these paramilitaries live among may be unhappy
about the government's rapid response to the IRA's
promises, but there is no support for "self-destructive
violence", as Security Minister David Hanson described it.

These communities have enough trouble coping with
unemployment and disadvantage, without being presented to
the world as lawless, through the actions of extremists.
Republicans will be rubbing their hands, arguing that the
real threat to peace is from loyalists, not from those who
have committed themselves to democratic methods.

It should be obvious to both unionists and nationalists
that their communities must take a long, hard look at
themselves in the wake of the IRA's statement. Unless they
can begin to stamp out the paramilitary culture, by helping
the police, the prospects for a worthwhile and lasting
peace will be limited.

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