Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 23 October 2014

Plaque unveiled for Captain James Kelly

A plaque has been unveiled in honour of Captain James Kelly who was acquitted of gun-running in 1970 at the outbreak of the Northern Ireland Troubles.

An ageing group of nationalists, known as The 1916-21 Club, erected the memorial in the library in Capt Kelly’s birthplace, Bailieboro, Co Cavan, on Saturday.

The former Irish Army intelligence was at the centre of the arms crisis in the 1970s, which saw Capt Kelly charged, and later cleared by a jury, of illegally importing guns from Germany, allegedly destined for northern nationalists.

Daughter Suzanne, one of Capt Kelly’s 10 children, said the memorial would offer hope to underdogs.

“I hope that the people of Bailieboro go to the library and see the plaque,” she said.

“For people who are underdogs or people who are wrongly treated, they are able to see this and maybe get some hope.”

Late Taoiseach Charles Haughey and TD Neil Blaney were sacked from the Government after the scandal broke in 1970. State papers released under the 30-year rule revealed statements used in the gun-running trial had been doctored to omit references about informing the Defence Minister of the plot.

After his acquittal, Capt Kelly and his family fought for a public apology and an unequivocal vindication of his good name.

Following his death in 2003 aged 74, then-Taoiseach Bertie Ahern declared the Army officer was innocent. The family wants a formal admission that he was wrongly accused and insists their name has been tainted.

”He would go for a job, he’d be there for a couple of days when a message would come through and he’d be asked to leave,” Capt Kelly’s daughter said.

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