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Order 'The Thimbleriggers' by James Kelly - The Dublin Arms Trials of 1970
Lead 'Letter to the Editor', The Irish News [Belfast], Thursday, 25 August 2005.

Captain Kelly was thrown to the wolves by ‘higher powers’

The Captain Kelly Justice Campaign is an initiative of the October Fifth Association, a network of 1968 Civil Rights’ veterans. It was created after the death of former Irish Army intelligence officer, Capt. James J. Kelly (1929-2003), who was one of the co-accused in the high-profile 1970 Arms Trial.

I have written to Mr. Michael McDowell, TD, the Minister of Justice in the FF/PD coalition government, pointing out that although Capt. Kelly and his co-accused were acquitted, several matters have been left to fester, without ‘official’ resolution, to our nation’s shame. There is a growing volume of support for our stance, as reflected in our website at: www.captainkelly.org and/or communicated by other means.

Thanks to the hundreds who have already signed our on-line International Petition, which will eventually be presented to An Taoiseach, Mr. Bertie Ahern,TD.

On an entirely voluntary basis, as honorary Secretary, I have spent months in research. I have discovered some disturbing facts. I, and many other people, are convinced that Capt. J.J. Kelly was made a scapegoat. He and his family suffered greatly as a direct result of carrying out his official duties, sanctioned by the then Taoiseach and his Cabinet, regardless of later denials and what can only be described as selfish “cover-ups” and an unjustified smear campaign.

We are thankful that God spared him long enough to see with his own eyes, in 2001 documents, many marked ‘Secret’, which confirmed his own suspicions, after such were made available in our national archives. Poor health barred him from then pursuing his 30- year struggle for Truth and Justice. Three other people associated with the arms trial are also sadly in poor health. Hence our sense of urgency to achieve a speedy official remedy.

I commented to Mr. McDowell that on Captain Kelly’s death on July 16th 2003 others may have wished that certain issues would be buried with him amongst the historic patriot graves in Glasnevin Cemetery.

Maybe, but his cries for Truth and Justice continue to be heard and we feel honoured to take up that standard on his behalf, and that of his seriously-ill widow, family, friends in the Irish Army, and many more world-wide.

My own research reveals:

  • The original transcript of the trial has gone “missing”, and may never have been lodged with the national archives… or was removed before the 30-year ‘state secrets’ embargo elapsed, in 2001.
  • That the entire trial was recorded on tape, paid for by the Department of Finance and that this too has gone “missing”, as the tapes are not at the national archives, where they should be for public inspection and possible further investigation. Were these also removed immediately before the embargo elapsed? If so, who authorised such a removal and in whose interests was such action taken? Certainly not in the interests of Capt. Kelly or his long-suffering family circle!
  • That around 20 per cent of a statement, written by Capt. Kelly’s immediate superior, Colonel Hefferon, who was not on trial, was deliberately deleted and, although a pivotal document, was never fully presented in court. I use the word “deliberately”, as the deletions were made to key paragraphs throughout Col. Hefferon’s personal statement of fact.
  • The late Col. Hefferon, at the close of the Trial made it known to Capt. Kelly, that what eventually was presented, was “selective” as the names of key players in this affair, were removed. The original, unedited, statement of Col. Hefferon can be viewed at the national archives, should the current Minister of Justice, or others, care to question our assertions.
  • Also of note: the Colonel was ordered to prepare a statement for the trial. He was however blocked from entering his former office, to view his own files.

What he wrote was based on his memory which must have been sharp to warrant 20 per cent of the statement being deleted because what was written did not please certain people, at the very highest level.

That is something that should concern every Irish citizen regardless of party loyalties. I also offered to send Mr. McDowell, as Minister of Justice, a dossier, including original Irish Army documents, previously ‘Secret’, et al, and DVDs based on two RTE ‘Prime Time’ programmes in 2001.

Other prima facie evidence strongly supports the contention that these matters can not simply be swept under the establishment’s carpets.

The historian and commentator, Tim Pat Coogan, Glengeary, Co. Dublin, in his communications with us, wrote, “This man [Capt. Kelly] is the Irish Dreyfus. His name should be cleared”.

Kevin McNamara MP, writing from the House of Commons echoed our own feelings on these issues: “We cannot erase the past but that should not prevent our striving for Justice for those whose reputation has been cruelly besmirched. Captain Kelly deserves Justice, even if he cannot be here to see it.”

Yours truly,

Fionnbarra O’ Dochartaigh,

Co-founder, N. Ireland Civil Rights Association [1967], Derry

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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