Friday, August 26, 2005

Will minister’s war ever be over?

Daily Ireland:

There was speculation that the silly season had come to an end when we saw politicians return to their desks. But the announcement by Minister Michael McDowell that “something will be done” about the Colombia Three, without stating what that will be, indicates otherwise.

Clearly clutching at straws, and under pressure from the United States, the Minister for Justice has so far come up with only one possible charge against one of the three — and that relates to the alleged use of a forged Irish passport.

Incredibly, even though the minister may ultimately have a role to play in any extradition process, he has hung his hat on efforts to jail Niall Connolly, Martin McAuley and Jim Monaghan in Ireland or Colombia.

Colombia’s appalling civil rights record, its DIY legal system which allowed the original decision in the three men’s favour to be overturned behind closed doors, and the fact that the men are solid supporters of the peace process have all been cast aside in a bid to further the PDs’ increasingly pathetic campaign against “the Provisional Movement” — even though such an organisation now exists only in PD-land and in the fevered imagination of columnists and leader writers in the Sunday Indo.

Under Michael McDowell’s bizarre logic, the Birmingham Six would have been sent back to England if they had escaped and made their way to Dublin. After all, they too were convicted in a court of law — even though, as in the case of the Colombian courts and the three Irishmen, the proceedings were more kangaroo court than Rumpole of the Bailey.

The priority of the PDs in the weeks and months ahead is to shore up the bankrupt unionist case while undermining the peacemakers trying to forge an historic deal between Sinn Féin and the DUP.

Rather than trying to talk the Colombia Three controversy into a crisis, the Irish government should be taking steps to tie up all the loose ends of the peace process — including the release of the Castlerea prisoners and an end to the hounding of the Colombia Three.

The IRA has said their war is over. Isn’t it time Mr McDowell called a halt to his war on republicans?

Republican fast one was brilliantly timed


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