Belfast Telegraph

State papers: Sinn Fein's Gerry Kelly told warder to obey or be blown away

By Adrian Rutherford

SINN Fein Assembly Member Gerry Kelly threatened to "blow away" a warder during the IRA's Maze breakout, according to a prison chief.

A report by William Kerr, the director of prison operations, was one of the files released by the Public Record Office under the 30-year rule.

In a narrative of the escape, he claimed that the officer, who was unloading meals from a van later used by the prisoners to escape, was ordered into a medical room.

"Whilst at this location he was threatened by prisoner Kelly who told him to do as he was told or he would be 'blown away'," Mr Kerr's report states. It also confirms Mr Kelly shot an officer who was on duty in the control room.

Kelly, who made several previous attempts to escape, was transferred to the Maze in 1975 after being jailed in England for trying to blow up the Old Bailey in a car bomb attack.

The records also revealed that then Secretary of State Jim Prior considered resigning in the wake of the breakout

Mr Prior briefed officials that he could step down if it was found policy decisions had increased the likelihood of an escape.

Thirty-eight inmates fled the high-security prison during the mass breakout – the biggest in British penal history. One prison officer, James Ferris, died after being stabbed, while another was seriously injured during the escape on September 25, 1983.

Belfast Telegraph


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