Belfast Telegraph

Sinn Fein man suing RTE quizzed over his role in IRA campaign

By Tim Healy

Sinn Fein political manager Nicky Kehoe has told a court that his arrest during a shootout with gardai in 1983 had to be seen "in the historical context" of the IRA hunger strikes of the time.

Mr Kehoe (62) said he spent 26 years since his release from a 12-year sentence for his involvement in a foiled kidnap attempt of multi-millionaire Galen Weston building up his reputation again.

But that was taken away from him again in "one swipe" because of an RTE radio programme on October 24, 2015, he said.

He was being cross-examined at the High Court in Dublin in his action against the Irish State broadcaster.

Mr Kehoe claims he was defamed when he was falsely described by former TD Joe Costello, on a Saturday with Claire Byrne live panel debate programme, as a former chief of staff of the IRA who was controlling how SF councillors on Dublin City Council vote.

RTE denies his claims.

Put to him by Cian Ferriter SC, for RTE, that he could not now pick and choose which parts of the IRA campaign of violence he supported and which were okay, he replied: "I would say most or all the campaign was wrong for violence, it was wrong that people were killed."

He agreed that while he saw his activities in the historical context, the vast majority would see it as criminal.

Counsel said reasonable people would not believe he had a reputation when it comes to the IRA. He replied he could see that but "I served my time and I came out changed".

"The reputation I have now is different from what I had but I had to work hard to get that reputation".

Mr Ferriter also asked him was he proud of his activities in the IRA.

"No, I would not be proud," he replied.

"Are you ashamed," counsel asked: "I would be, in a context," he said.

Mr Kehoe was asked did he agree he was regularly referred to as an IRA gunman. He said "in the media".

Earlier, Mr Ferriter put it to him that despite the fact that it was Joe Costello who made the comments on the radio show, he had not taken a case against Mr Costello and had not said a word to him "good, bad or indifferent".

Mr Kehoe replied he had acted on the advice of his lawyers.

He also said it was not Mr Costello who broadcast the matter, but RTE, "to 250,000 listeners".

Mr Kehoe told his own counsel, Declan Doyle, earlier, that he was shocked when he was told by people who had heard the programme what had been said.

The trial continues before a judge and jury.

Belfast Telegraph

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