Demands for release of Sean Kelly
Pressure is growing on the British government to free prominent
republican Sean Kelly, who was jailed last month without
Sinn Fein has said Kelly has worked to defuse tensions in the
republican Ardoyne area, which has been the scene of intense
clashes over Protestant marches through the area.
Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams said this week that the
continued imprisonment of Sean Kelly "throws petrol onto an
already volatile situation".
"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."
Local assembly member Gerry Kelly urged people to attend
protests in Belfast and Derry against the move.
"It is a disgrace that Sean Kelly continues to be interned,"
said. "Sean Kelly is actually being interned for trying to work
positively in bringing about calm in north Belfast," Gerry Kelly
"Yet in recent days Orange marchers have been forced through
Catholic areas and loyalist gun gangs are openly using weapons
and issuing statements of intent on the streets."
Kelly, a former republican prisoner, was released on license
under the terms of the 1998 Good Friday Agreement. That licence
was suddenly revoked last month by British Direct Ruler Peter
Hain, apparently after Kelly was photographed at the scene of a
riot in North Belfast.
Mr Kelly said that the treatment of Sean Kelly now "raises
significant questions about the mentality of those British
securocrats who may have triggered this off and certainly about
the judgment of Peter Hain who signed the internment order".
Local priest Fr Aidan Troy has also added his voice to
nationalist demands for the British government to produce
evidence or release Mr Kelly.
"Anywhere I had seen him he was trying to exercise some
restraint, particularly on some of the young people during some
of the disturbances in Ardoyne," said Fr Troy, following a visit
to Mr Kelly at Maghaberry Prison.
"I asked him truthfully, was there things going on I didn't know
about, anything happened that would have justified him going
back to prison?
"His response was, as far as he was concerned, he had done
nothing," Fr Troy said.
"His presence at riots and his being photographed were all in an
effort to try and exercise some restraint and never to provoke."
However, DUP assembly member Nelson McCausland attacked Father
Troy's commments, which he said were "distinctly unhelpful and
"I have no doubt that the secretary of state and the police have