Former IRA leader Kelly dies

 

Provisional IRA founding member and former Sinn Féin assemblyman John Kelly has died after a long illness.

Born in Belfast, Mr Kelly joined the IRA in the early 1950s and was leader of the Provisional IRA during the 1970 Arms Trial that implicated senior members of the Irish Government.

Mr Kelly, former taoiseach Charles Haughey, Capt James Kelly, and Belgian businessman Albert Luykx were acquitted of conspiring to import arms illegally into the Republic for use in Northern Ireland.

He was jailed three times for IRA activities, serving a total of 15 years in prison on both sides of the Border.

Mr Kelly left politics in 2003, having been de-selected for his assembly seat in Mid-Ulster, and later criticised the Sinn Féin's decision to embrace policing.

Last January, he co-wrote a letter with a former leader of IRA Maze hunger strikers, Brendan Hughes, that was fiercely critical of the Sinn Féin leadership.

The letter, written under the umbrella group No More Lies, questioned whether threats said to have emanated from dissident republicans against Sinn Féin leaders, Gerry Adams, Martin McGuinness and Gerry Kelly, were genuine.

"In our view there are threats being made. But they are coming from Sinn Féin and are directed against republicans who seek a wider debate on the policing matter," they wrote.