Police not consulted over release of IRA bomber

 

The British government has been accused of being irresponsible about public safety after it was disclosed that IRA bomber Sean Kelly's was recently released from prison without the police being consulted.

Democratic Unionist MEP Jim Allister accused Northern Ireland Secretary Peter Hain of taking a political decision when he freed Kelly last month.

The north Belfast republican, who was jailed for carrying out the 1993 Shankill Road fish shop bomb which killed nine civilians and his accomplice Thomas Begley, was originally freed in 2000 under the Belfast Agreement.

However in June his early release licence was revoked by Mr Hain and he was returned to jail because of alleged involvement in unspecified terrorist activity.

Within weeks, unionists were outraged when Kelly was released from Maghaberry Prison in Co Antrim on the eve of an IRA statement declaring an end to its armed campaign.

Mr Allister today said the Northern Ireland Office had confirmed that the PSNI was not consulted nor was their advice sought over the release.

"Considering that Kelly was detained because he was believed to be 'a danger to others if he were at liberty', I am astounded that a decision was reached on a matter so entwined with the public's safety without any consultation with the police.

"To me this confirms the brazenly political nature of Hain's decision and the fact that the demand of the IRA Army Council meant more to him than any possible police view.

"Clearly, Kelly could not have been detained without consultation with the police, but he was granted political release without even the façade of seeking a police view.

"This is a Government clearly prepared to play fast and loose with public safety all in the interests of serving a greater political gameplan. This is the politics of deals, not honour."