Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Troy attacked for raising Kelly case

Jarlath Kearney:

A number of vitriolic attacks were yesterday levelled against respected Belfast priest Fr Aidan Troy.

The abuse came after Fr Troy used his column in yesterday’s Daily Ireland to raise concern that the case of republican ex-prisoner, Seán Kelly, could become a miscarriage of justice.

DUP MP for North Belfast Nigel Dodds claimed the respected cleric was “crass, insensitive and inappropriate” for questioning the basis of Mr Kelly’s re-imprisonment. Mr Dodds’ party colleague Nelson McCausland said Fr Troy’s position was “unbelievable”.

Last night Fr Troy said that his decision to publicly question Seán Kelly’s re-imprisonment was based on a pastoral commitment to justice and to the values of the Gospel.

Seán Kelly had his 1998 Good Friday Agreement early release licence suspended by secretary of state Peter Hain on June 18. He was arrested by the PSNI and imprisoned in Maghaberry jail, Co Antrim.

No evidence has been produced by the British government to support what republicans now refer to as Mr Kelly’s “internment”. Mr Kelly had been prominent as a steward at interface areas in north Belfast along with other republican ex-prisoners.

Writing in yesterday’s Daily Ireland, Fr Troy noted that he held a private, pastoral visit with Mr Kelly on July 6.

“At present I can say without fear of contradiction that he has not been involved in violence or law-breaking since being released on licence. The reasons for his return to prison must be shown or let him be immediately released,” Fr Troy wrote.

However, Nigel Dodds claimed he was “utterly astounded” by Fr Troy’s comments.

“People can see for themselves from pictures in the press that Seán Kelly was in the middle of rioting in North Belfast. Seán Kelly should never have been let out of jail in the first place,” Mr Dodds said.

Reacting to the personal attack, Fr Troy said that he had watched Seán Kelly during disturbances “taking people aside and saying this is not the way forward”.

“I think we need to know what sort of information returned Seán Kelly to prison. There’s a justice issue: if a person can be returned to prison without any accountability then we are all vulnerable,” Fr Troy said.

The prominent cleric said that “voices have to be raised” where justice issues are concerned. He also emphasised it was never his intention to cause offence.

In a separate development yesterday, Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams personally demanded the release of Seán Kelly during a meeting with Peter Hain.

“The man should not be in prison and we made that very, very clear. To my knowledge, no one has given evidence around why the man was put in prison,” Mr Adams said.

Fr Troy calls for release of Shankill bomber Kelly

Adams reiterates call for release of Shankill bomber

Priest calls for bomber's release

SF President calls for release of Kelly


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