FREE SEAN KELLY
The heavily pregnant partner of jailed Belfast republican Sean
Kelly has called on the Dublin government to do more to get the
father of her children released.
Sean Kelly was returned to jail ten days ago amid claims that he
had violated the terms of his release under the 1998 Good Friday
British Direct Ruler Peter Hain, relying on intelligence
provided to him by Special Branch police, claimed that Mr Kelly
had remained involved in unspecified illegal activity.
Nationalists have held protests calling on the British
government to release the prominent north Belfast republican
Other former republican POWs released under the Good Friday
Agreement fear they may be next to be sent back to jail as
British authorities pile on pressure for an IRA move to stand
down and disarm.
Sinn Fein described the decision to return the 33-year-old to
prison as "stupid". Local representative Gerry Kelly spoke of
how the decision had angered republicans.
He said: "There is widespread anger at Peter Hain's capitulation
to the demands of unionists and those opposed to the peace
process within the Northern Ireland Office by interning a
pro-agreement republican who has done much to reduce interface
"This was a stupid decision that means that many republicans,
particularly ex-political prisoners who play such a positive
role in managing difficulties at interfaces, are in a vulnerable
"They fear that they could be victimised in the same way as Sean
Kelly if they continue to contribute to effectively managing
Mother of three Geraldine Friel, who is expecting her fourth
child in October, called on 26-County Prime Minister, Taoiseach
Bertie Ahern to put real pressure on the British government to
secure the 33-year-old's release.
Ahern had said his government would look into the matter. Irish
senators Martin Mansergh and Maurice Hayes have also questioned
the motives behind Mr Kelly's return to jail.
Mr Kelly had only been in Maghaberry prison for four days when
he was threatened by a unionist paramilitary prisoner. The
mother of his children says she fears for his life inside.
"Sean is in a lot of danger in jail and I worry about him all
the time," said Ms Friel.
"The children are very scared. I let my nine-year-old know
almost immediately that he had been jailed but I didn't tell my
five and three-year-olds for a couple of days. I pretended to
them that he had gone on holiday.
"It was tough breaking the news to them, one of the hardest
things that I have done."
Ms Friel said she believed there had been a focused attempt to
keep Mr Kelly from speaking to or seeing his family.
"Sean has been in jail for 12 days now and, in that time, I have
seen him once and had just two telephone calls.
"The kids haven't seen him at all. It's as if the authorities
don't want him to get in touch with his family," she said.