Belfast Telegraph

Victims' champion raps party held for fugitive IRA man

By Cate McCurry

A victims' campaigner has hit out a night of celebration held for one of the so-called Colombia Three at a plush hotel in Dublin.

The night of "celebration and remembrance" was held for veteran republican Jim Monaghan and chaired by Sinn Fein vice-president Mary Lou McDonald.

The event was held by the party's Dublin volunteers in the Gresham Hotel.

Monaghan, who spoke at the event, was one of three Irish men convicted in the South American country of training Farc rebels and travelling on a false passport.

He, Martin McCauley and Niall Connolly all fled Colombia before a 17-year sentence was imposed on them in 2004.

They have never been deported because there is no extradition treaty between Colombia and Ireland.

The three insisted they were in Colombia to review the peace process in the country.

But the authorities there said that they had evidence the men were engaged in training the Farc guerrillas in the use of explosives.

Kenny Donaldson, a spokesman with Innocent Victims United, described the event as "disgusting".

"This event is the work of those who are deluded in terms of the devastation brought as a consequence of PIRA/Farc guerrilla terrorism," he said.

"The event dubbed, 'a night of celebration' is quite incredible - a night to celebrate what exactly? A man who is 'on the run' for crimes that he and others are believed to have committed in Colombia, which would have had the impact of enabling Farc fanatics to wave terror on the Colombian people.

"Most law-abiding people will be aghast at this, but Sinn Fein have some form for these sort of events.

"When John Downey cheated being tried for the Hyde Park bombing - a callous and brutal terror attack - Sinn Fein organised a welcome home party for him in Donegal.

"The reality that people should understand is that whatever peace and reconciliation rhetoric is trotted out by Sinn Fein, the reality is that they remain in denial as to the activities of the IRA at home but also abroad.

"The IRA - including many Sinn Fein members - have British, Irish, Colombian, Spanish, Jewish and the blood of many other nations on their hands.

"The republican movement must desist from its campaigns of terror and violence, whether at home or abroad, and they must accept that there is not and was not ever legitimacy for terrorism and criminal violence."

Belfast Telegraph


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