Monday, July 25, 2005

Mass protests held over Seán Kelly imprisonment

Jarlath Kearney:

Hundreds of republicans protested across the North yesterday about the ongoing imprisonment of Seán Kelly at Maghaberry prison, Co Antrim.

The SDLP's refusal to support Mr Kelly's immediate release from prison was also attacked by a spokesperson for the campaign to free the north Belfast republican.

For exactly five weeks Mr Kelly has been imprisoned without trial on the direction of secretary of state Peter Hain.

Mr Kelly was summarily imprisoned in Maghaberry after being arrested by the PSNI on June 18, after his early release under the 1998 Good Friday Agreement was suspended.

A new mural calling for Mr Kelly's release was unveiled yesterday at Free Derry Corner in Derry's Bogside.

Simultaneously, scores of republicans – including prominent Sinn Féin members – picketed the headquarters of the North's Prison Service at Dundonald House in east Belfast.

Speaking from Free Derry Corner where she attended the mural launch with her children, Mr Kelly's partner Geraldine told Daily Ireland: “There is a pressing responsibility on all those concerned with natural justice to explore the real motives behind Seán’s internment. I am now calling on all individuals and groups of any influence to intervene in this case," she added.

Among those who have already expressed concern about the process behind Mr Kelly's imprisonment are Senators Martin Mansergh and Maurice Hayes, as well as Ardoyne parish priest Fr Aidan Troy.

A spokesperson for the campaign to release Mr Kelly criticised the SDLP's position on the case.

SDLP opposition to a Sinn Féin motion at Derry City Council's monthly meeting on Thursday highlighted the party's “hypocrisy", the spokesperson said.

“In not backing the Sinn Féin motion and calling for Seán's release. The SDLP are demonstrating rank hypocrisy. SDLP people have witnessed on the interface in north Belfast the calming work carried out by Seán and other ex-POWs.

“The SDLP have now formally endorsed the possibility of intelligence being used as evidence to keep someone imprisoned without trial. They have put their faith in a procedure which has no transparency despite the fact that this is contrary to their own comments that Seán's case needs to be open and transparent," the spokesperson added.

Sinn Féin assembly member for North Belfast, Cathy Stanton, said republicans were justified in protesting outside the Prison Service headquarters.

“At a recent meeting of the Policing Board the PSNI attempted to distance themselves from the internment of Seán Kelly. They indicated the involvement of the Prison Service in this unjustifiable act. Today republicans gathered outside the offices of the Prison Service to demand answers. Was the Prison Service involved in this case and, if so, why?" Ms Stanton said.

“The Prison Service here has been a tool in the armoury of the securocrats for decades. It was used to try and break the republican struggle in the H-Blocks in the late 1970s and early 1980s. It has an overwhelmingly Protestant and loyalist workforce and ethos.

“Republicans across this island are angry at the re-introduction of internment through the arrest of Sean Kelly and will not rest until he is released and the faceless people behind his arrest exposed," Ms Stanton said.

A series of whiteline pickets and leaflet drops to highlight Mr Kelly's case will take place today in the Co Down towns of Newcastle, Warrenpoint, Castlewellan and Downpatrick. Protesters will also assemble in Dundalk, Co Louth, and ahead of the Ulster GAA Final this afternoon at Croke Park in Dublin. Other events are also being scheduled in Newry and Crossmaglen.

Parties clash over Kelly release

SDLP refuse to back call for Kelly’s immediate release

Castlereagh: no charges


Post a Comment

<< Home