Adams ap­peal over IRA prison es­cape re­jected

The Guardian - - NATIONAL - Ire­land correspondent Henry Mc­Don­ald

Gerry Adams has lost his ap­peal against con­vic­tions re­lated to an IRA prison break­out in the 1970s.

The re­tired Sinn Féin pres­i­dent was among four de­tainees in­ter­cepted by prison of­fi­cers as they tried to cut their way through perime­ter fenc­ing at the Maze/Long Kesh prison on Christ­mas Eve in 1973.

He was also con­victed over a July 1974 plot by the IRA to kid­nap a man who looked like him, dye his hair, put a false beard on him and then switch the two in­side the prison. Adams’ le­gal team had tried to over­turn both con­vic­tions.

Adams was among hun­dreds of men in­terned with­out trial in 1972 dur­ing a highly con­tro­ver­sial Bri­tish gov­ern­ment se­cu­rity crack­down at the start of the Trou­bles.

He was re­leased from Long Kesh to at­tend talks in Lon­don with the then North­ern Ire­land sec­re­tary, Wil­liam Whitelaw.

How­ever, the dis­cus­sions broke down, which led to an es­ca­la­tion of IRA violence that sum­mer and Adams was re­ar­rested in west Belfast and jailed again.

His le­gal team ar­gued last month that the two con­vic­tions were un­law­ful be­cause the North­ern Ire­land sec­re­tary at the time did not per­son­ally au­tho­rise them.

Judges at the court of ap­peal in Belfast ruled yes­ter­day that an­other ju­nior min­is­ter had le­gal pow­ers to sign the court or­der for Adams’ de­ten­tion. “Ac­cord­ingly the court is sat­is­fied that the con­vic­tions are safe,” one of the judges, Sir Ron­ald Weatherup, said.

In­tern­ment with­out trial was heav­ily crit­i­cised across the world, but did not end un­til 1975. By then nearly 2,000 peo­ple had been de­tained un­der the mea­sure, the vast ma­jor­ity of them repub­li­cans and Catholic civil­ians un­in­volved in pol­i­tics.

A num­ber of for­mer in­ternees, known as the Hooded Men, have taken a high-profile le­gal case against the Bri­tish state, seek­ing com­pen­sa­tion for al­leged tor­ture by army and po­lice of­fi­cers dur­ing their de­ten­tion.

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