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"Evidence of the Colonel: The 1970's Arms Trial Revisited"
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Order 'The Thimbleriggers' by James Kelly - The Dublin Arms Trials of 1970
Campaign Diary
  July 16th, 2003: Former Irish army captain, James J. Kelly, born 1929, dies.
At his death-bed the family promise to continue his 33-year long campaign for justice. Unexpectedly, within hours of his death An Taoiseach, Mr. Bertie Ahern TD, tells journalists,” Captain Jim Kelly acted on what he believed were the proper orders of his superiors. For my part, I never found any reason to doubt his integrity”.

July-December 2003: The Hon. Secretary of the October Fifth Association, a network of civil rights veterans and supporters, on the basis of Ahern’s statement, commences research on the Arms Trials of 1970. Statements are placed on the Internet calling for a campaign. A Boston-based son of Capt. Kelly discovers postings from Derry civil rights office, and his mother, Sheila e-mails rights.civil@googlemail.com to express her thanks and support. An Irish-American, Dr. Kevin Kelly, no relation, offers to CR Vets the creation a campaign website, free of charge. The offer is immediately accepted. After several weeks the first few “pages” of www.captainkelly.org appears, and are gradually added to. Christmas period - The text for an on-line petition is drafted and approved by Mrs. Kelly, family members and key supporters at home and abroad. Internet bulletin boards, initially the Irish Anti-Partition League’s forum, www.voy.com/70381/ express solidarity, and thereafter publish regular updates.

January/February 2004: A local reporter, Darinagh Boyle pens an article, “Derry activists demand posthumous clearance for Captain Kelly”. This is the first public recognition of a new campaign, and is posted unto the website – [View Home Page, www.captainkelly.org Derry News on Sunday, January 4th. The Derry News on Feb. 12th report: “Kelly’s Widow to launch campaign in Derry”, The Irish News on Feb, 20th report, “Taoisign asked to help clear Kelly’s name”. Next day, the same paper reports public backing from 1970 co-accused, John Kelly, former chairman of the Belfast Citizens’ Defence Committees; “MLA backs Kelly Campaign”.

March 2004: Radio Foyle and Highland Radio broadcast interviews. Irish News on the 16th reports website creation and “Fight to ‘clear’ arms trial captain”. Next day, St. Patrick’s Day, at Noon, Mrs. Kelly phones civil rights veterans to officially launch the campaign website www.captainkelly.org Over 150 publications at home and abroad are notified by e-mail, in addition to postings to several Irish-American groups, bulletin boards and scores of supporters worldwide. Veteran Derry journalist, author and former ‘Journal’ editor, Frank Curran, calls on the Irish government to set up a tribunal of inquiry.

April 2004: Capt. Kelly’s last book, “Thimbleriggers” (1999) is promoted on the website. A special website Civil Rights/Bloody Sunday photographic section is created. 4,000 campaign promotion cards printed bearing photo of Capt. Kelly, Civil Rights (b/w ‘Oakleaf’) logo, as well as website and contact details for much-needed donations. [View – Support Campaign section on the Home Page].

May 2004: The widow of Capt. Jim Kelly is presented with the Celtic Cross Award, in recognition of her late husband’s efforts to assist beleaguered nationalist communities in 1969, and other life-time achievements. The ceremony took place in Boston, organised by Fr. Robert ‘Bob’ Doherty, at the request of a co-founder of the civil rights association (NICRA-1967) who is the Awards’ Irish-based representative. 2,000 A3 size illustrated paper petitions are printed to compliment the on-line version, and to cater for supporters who do not have access to a PC or the Internet. This was launched on the 29th at an unveiling of a memorial stone plaque in honour of Co. Cavan born, Capt. Jim Kelly, in the Catskills, Upstate New York. Other notable Irishmen and women, from each of the 32 counties will likewise be honoured at the Michael J. Quill Cultural & Sports Centre in East Durham. Members of the Kelly family attended both ceremonies. A report, entitled, “Irish America Remembers Captain Kelly’, written by the US-based columnist Patrick Hurley, appeared in the ‘Irish Emigrant’ on June 18th and on July 7th the Gaelic newspaper, Lá, carried “An masla deiridh/The Final Insult”. These, and subsequent press reports and interviews, which place a spotlight on the arms trial, and reveal new evidence from that era, can be viewed on the Home Page of www.captainkelly.org.

July 2004: Mrs. Kelly, a son [James Peter] and two daughters [Sheila & Jackie] travel to Derry to meet former officials of the Derry and Belfast Citizens’ Defence Committees, the immediate and extended family of another Arms Trial co-accused, the late Neil Blaney TD, and civil rights veterans to highlight the campaign. A press conference was also held at the newly-built City Hotel. Commemorative plaques of the visit, illustrated by a photo of Capt. Kelly in dress-uniform, and the civil rights logo, were presented to Mrs. Kelly and two of her daughters, John Kelly, former MLA, and Niall Blaney TD. The plaque designed for Mrs.Sheila Kelly was presented by Mrs. Mary Ellen O’Doherty [97 –April 2005]. She is the last surviving widow of the decorated veterans of the Derry Brigade, Irish Volunteers. Mr.Paddy ‘Bogside’ Doherty, a leading figure in the 1969 Derry Citizens’ Defence Committee presented one of these to one of Capt. Kelly’s sons, James Peter, on behalf of civil rights veterans in the city, and others from across the north, including human rights activist priest, Fr. Des Wilson, who had made journeyed to Derry to express their solidarity.

January-April 2005: The website continues to be updated. A 38-minute video, “Evidence of the Colonel” can now be viewed, and another, “Secret Orders” of a similar time-frame, is planned for Easter week. A campaign pin/badge has been struck in Australia and a car bumper sticker has been produced in the United States. These are highlighted on the website.

A book on the Arms Trial and the plight of Capt. Jim Kelly is currently being researched, with the full co-operation of his family and the CKJCampaign.

Two leading politicians, one Fianna Fail, one SDLP, will make representations to An Taoiseach, Bertie Ahern, TD., urging him to meet Captain Kelly’s widow, and other family members. A dossier of recently unearthed evidence, and other documentary sources, relating to the scapegoating of Capt. Kelly in particular, is being prepared for the consideration of the Taoiseach on a date, which has yet to be mutually agreed.

Books on the Arms Crisis

Order 'The Thimbleriggers' by James Kelly - The Dublin Arms Trials of 1970
The Arms Conspiracy Trial
The Arms Conspiracy Trial: Ireland 1970

Military Aspects Of Ireland's Arms Crisis Of 1969

August 1969: Ireland's Only Appeal To The United Nations
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