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Colombia Three man denies Sinn Fein interview gag

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James Monaghan signs copies of his new book, Colombia Jail Journal, at the Sinn Fein offices on Parnell Square, Dublin, yesterday evening

James Monaghan signs copies of his new book, Colombia Jail Journal, at the Sinn Fein offices on Parnell Square, Dublin, yesterday evening

James Monaghan signs copies of his new book, Colombia Jail Journal, at the Sinn Fein offices on Parnell Square, Dublin, yesterday evening

ONE of the Colombia Three was at the centre of new controversy last night, after a top book publisher claimed the republican movement had banned him from giving radio and TV interviews, a claim he later denied.

James Monaghan, who along with Martin McCauley and Niall Connolly was arrested in Bogota six years ago on allegations of training FARC guerrillas, last night launched his own "exclusive inside story" in his book 'Colombia Jail Journal'.

But, in a new twist to the controversy, the publishers of his book claimed Monaghan had been banned from giving radio and TV interviews on the "orders" of the republican movement.

Kerry-based Brandon/Mount Eagle Publications said that Monaghan had "out of the blue" withdrawn from any co-operation with the broadcast media.

Brandon spokesman, Steve MacDonogh, said they undertook publication of the book in good faith and under the terms of a contract which committed the author to co-operate with their promotion efforts.

Now that the author had withdrawn from any co-operation with broadcast media, his company, in turn, had withdrawn its promotional campaign for the book.

It had also scrapped its own planned press conference. Instead, the book was launched last night at Sinn Fein's bookshop offices in Parnell Square.

Gagged

But the author, James Monaghan said Brandon's claims were all "new stuff" to him. Speaking at the book launch, Mr Monaghan said he did not "feel gagged" and welcomed reporters to "ask me any question you like".

The author confirmed that he had turned down an opportunity to appear on the 'Late Late Show', following consultation with Sinn Fein.

However, he insisted that he had nothing to hide but said he might have had to face three or four very experienced people.

Sinn Fein's head of publicity, Dawn Doyle, said she knew nothing about a ban on TV or radio interviews and said everyone was welcome to attend last night's book launch which was handled by former Sinn Fein TD Sean Crowe.

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Mr Crowe also insisted that "no one in Sinn Fein is trying to muzzle Jim".


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