Drogheda Independent

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Adams convictions quashed after Supreme Court victory

Former Louth TD Gerry Adams has won a Supreme Court appeal against two historic convictions for attempting to escape from the Maze Prison in the 1970s.

Announcing the unanimous judgement of the court last Wednesday, Lord Chief Justice of Northern Ireland, Lord Kerr said Mr Adams' detention was unlawful because it had not been 'considered personally' by then Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Willie Whitelaw.

Gerry Adams was first elected to Dáil Éireann for Sinn Féin in the 2011 General Election and retained his seat five years later. Mr Adams, also a former president of the party, did not contest this year's election.

The 71-year-old has now called on the British government to identify and inform other internees whose Internment may also have been unlawful.

It is anticipated he will seek compensation.

The judge said: 'The making of the (interim custody order) in respect of the appellant was invalid since the Secretary of State had not himself considered it.

'In consequence, Mr Adams' detention was unlawful, hence his convictions for attempting to escape from lawful custody were, likewise, unlawful."

Lord Kerr added: 'The appeal is therefore allowed and his convictions are quashed.'

Mr Adams attempted to escape from the Maze, also known as Long Kesh internment camp, on Christmas Eve, 1973 and again in July 1974. He was later sentenced to a total of four and a half years.

A panel of five Supreme Court justices delivered their ruling remotely.

At a previous hearing counsel for Mr Adams said his client's appeal had been prompted by the obtaining of materials under the 30-year rule undwer which government papers are made public.

It was submitted to the court that these documents revealed there had been 'considerable debate within the Northern Ireland Office and the Home Office' about whether Mr Adams had been lawfully detained.

Following last week's ruling Gerry Adams thanked his legal team.

'I have no regrets about my imprisonment except for the time I was separated from my family. However, we were not on our own. It is believed that around two thousand men and women were interned during its four and a half years of operation.' he said.

'I consider my time in the Prison Ship Maidstone, in Belfast prison and in Long Kesh to have been in the company of many remarkable, resilient and inspiring people.'

Drogheda Independent