IRA prisoner Kelly for Portlaoise transfer "in days"


THE IRA prisoner Patrick Kelly should be transferred to Portlaoise Prison "within a matter of days," the Minister for Justice said yesterday.

Mrs Owen said she was disappointed that "there couldn't be ore of an indication" from Sinn Fein that Kelly's transfer was an important development. She noted that Sinn Fein was preparing for the Forum elections.

"They now have to get the ceasefire restored so they can take their place on June 10th," she said.

"I would have thought this move to transfer Paddy Kelly is a significant move with regard to the bringing back in the ceasefire," she told the This Week programme on RTE radio.

Kelly is gravely ill from skin cancer and is being held at Maghaberry Prison, Co Antrim.

The Sinn Fein president, Mr Gerry Adams, said it was "a mistake" to see everything that happens in the context of an IRA ceasefire.

If Kelly had been transferred two years ago when there was an IRA cessation that might have helped maintain that cessation, he said.

The transfer is taking place under the European Convention on the Transfer of Sentenced Persons.

Under the convention the agreement is required of the prisoner concerned, the country where the prisoner is being held, and the country which is to receive the prisoner.

The British Home Secretary, Mr Michael Edward, gave his consent for the transfer last Thursday. Mrs Owen applied successfully to the High Court on Friday evening for a warrant to receive Kelly.

This warrant will be given to the British Home Office today. Mr Howard must then issue a warrant of release, and Kelly can then be transferred.

Deaglan de Breadun, Political Reporter, writes: The transfer decision has been welcomed by the Democratic Left leader, Mr De Rossa.

Speaking at his party conference, he urged the IRA to reciprocate by disclosing the location of the bodies of those it had kidnapped and killed over the past two decades.