Sunday 16 December 2018

Adams fails in bid to overturn jail-break convictions from 1970s

Former Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams
Former Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams

Alan Erwin

Gerry Adams has failed in a bid to overturn historical convictions for attempts to escape from prison more than 40 years ago.

The former Sinn Féin president is now considering a court appeal after failing in his challenge.

Mr Adams said he was disappointed but not surprised by the Court of Appeal judgment in Belfast.

He had challenged the legality of two convictions received in 1975 relating to escape bids while he was detained without trial at the Maze Prison during the early 1970s.

His lawyers argued his imprisonment was unlawful because of flaws in the detention process.

They claimed the order used to intern him was not legal, so he therefore should not have been prosecuted for trying to escape from what they asserted was unlawful custody.

The lawyers said Mr Adams's internment was not lawful because the interim custody order to hold him had not been considered by the then-Secretary of State.

It was instead signed by a junior minister at the Northern Ireland Office.

They contested that the 1972 Detention of Terrorists Order required senior level authorisation.

However, three Court of Appeal judges in Northern Ireland rejected that argument.

"The Court of Appeal was satisfied that the ICO (Interim Custody Order) was valid having been made by the minister on behalf of the Secretary of State," read the judgment.

"The court was accordingly satisfied that the appellant's convictions are safe and dismissed the appeal."

Reacting to the judgment, Mr Adams said: "I am disappointed, though not entirely surprised, by today's High Court decision.

"I will now discuss with my legal advisers what options, including an appeal, are open to me."

The Louth TD was first detained in March 1972, but was released in June that year to take part in secret talks in London.

He was rearrested in July 1973. He was interned at the Maze Prison, also known as Long Kesh.

Details of both attempts to flee from the prison were disclosed during the appeal.

Irish Independent

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