ANGER AT COLOMBIA 3 DECISION
The Dublin government was today urged to intervene in a bid to
have three republicans held in Colombia returned home.
Martin McGuinness, Sinn Fein's Mid Ulster MP, warned that the
situation for the men was now very dangerous.
James Monaghan, Niall Connolly and Martin McCauley, who were
cleared of training left-wing rebels, have been told they must
remain in the country until an appeal is heard.
It could be several months before a decision is taken, but the
process could ultimately take several years.
The three men have been free to leave prison in Bogota since the
verdict was announced over two weeks ago. Supporters have not
paid their fines for travelling on false passports, fearing
their lives will be more at risk outside the jail.
Mr McGuinness today called on the authorities in Dublin to make
new representations and have the three allowed home until the
prosecution's appeal is heard. He said the process could take
years to complete.
There was "deep anger and concern" in Ireland at the decision
Judge Acosta to refuse to allow Martin McCauley, Niall Connolly
and Jim Monaghan to return to Ireland while they are waiting on
the Prosecution appeal of their innocent verdict to take place.
He added: "Every hour that the men remain in Colombia their
lives are in grave danger. They cannot be protected in prison in
Bogota, and the Colombian authorities have turned down all
requests to ensure the men`s safety on their release."
A spokeswoman for the Department of Foreign Affairs said the
Irish government had urged the Colombian authorities to allow
the men to leave the country in light of the security situation
there pending the hearing of the appeal.
She said the government would be continuing to emphasise the
need to provide appropriate security to assure the men`s safety
in the interim.
"We will be asking the Colombian authorities to expedite the
hearing of the appeal so that this case can be concluded as
quickly as possible," she added.
Catriona Ruane, of the 'Bring Them Home' campaign, said it would
be ridiculous if the men were not allowed to return home.
"The problem for us, the three men and the Irish government is
that there is no safe place in Colombia for these men," she
"It would be like the British government appealing the
Birmingham Six case and then the Birmingham Six having to stay
in England until the appeal was completed."