Source: Daily Ireland
US AOH campaign to clear captain’s name
Irish-American group’s concerns over James Kelly’s reputation
by Ciarán O’Neill
A leading Irish-American organisation has backed a campaign to clear the
name of an Irish army captain involved in the 1970 arms trial.
Captain James Kelly was charged – along with Charles J Haughey, former
minister Neil T Blaney, former Sinn Féin assembly member John Kelly and
businessman Albert Luykx – with illegally importing arms into Ireland in
Four of the five men went to trial after it was claimed they had imported
arms for transfer to the North. All four were acquitted but the crisis
caused great controversy in the Republic.
Captain James Kelly, who died in 2003, worked as an intelligence officer for
the Irish army. He was a key conduit in the late 1960s between the Irish
government and the Northern nationalist community.
Despite his acquittal, Captain Kelly’s family claims that his reputation
never recovered and that he was shunned by the Irish state.
A campaign was launched several years ago to clear his name.
The president of the Ancient Order of Hiberians (AOH) in the United States
has thrown the weight of his 60,000-strong organisation behind the campaign.
In a letter to Taoiseach Bertie Ahern, Ned McGinley, who met Captain Kelly’s
relatives last year, urged Mr Ahern to take action.
“In your past comments, you have noted that you believe Captain Kelly was
operating under what he believed were proper orders and you had no reason to
doubt his integrity, which would mean that the step to clear his name is
very close,” said Mr McGinley.
“We request that your move to completely clear Captain James Kelly’s name
should be sooner rather than later.
“This action will help to close a sad chapter in the conflict that has been
known as ‘the Troubles’ for more than 30 years and is important to total
AOH websites across the United States have created links with the Captain
Kelly Justice Campaign website (www.captainkelly.org).
Campaign activists in the United States will send the AOH president’s letter
this week to former US president Bill Clinton, together with Captain Kelly’s
last book on the arms trial, The Thimbleriggers, which was written in 1999.