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Order 'The Thimbleriggers' by James Kelly - The Dublin Arms Trials of 1970
Daily Ireland. Mon. July 3rd 2006. Report by Connla Young

Widow reissues appeal for help to clear captain's name

Campaign aims to restore reputation of 1970s arms trial defendant James Kelly

THE wife of an Irish army officer convicted of importing arms for the IRA in 1970 has reissued an appeal for members of the public to support the campaign to clear his name.

Sheila Kelly, widow of the Irish army captain James J. Kelly, issued the appeal just weeks ahead of the third anniversary of the former soldier's death.

Captain Kelly, an intelligence officer with the Irish army, was one of five men who fell under the international spotlight during the 1970 arms trial.

The five were accused of trying to import arms into Ireland for use by the newly formed Provisional IRA. The Irish soldier's co-accused included former Irish taoiseach Charles Haughey, former Irish government minister Neil Blaney, senior Belfast republican John Kelly and Belgian businessman Albert Luyks.

All five men were eventually acquitted. However, Captain Kelly was later forced to resign from the Irish army and was haunted by the allegations until his death in July 2003.

Many observers from the period believe that Irish army officer was innocent of any wrongdoing relating to the gun smuggling plot but was scapegoated for political reasons.

Speaking after Captain Kelly's death, current taoiseach Bertie Ahern said he believed the former soldier has only ever acted on orders.

Sheila Kelly continues to campaign to clear her husband's name.

"Since the death of my husband in 2003 a petition to clear his name has been put on the Internet. Even though acquitted in the Dublin Arms Trials 1970 his reputation was smeared and the family suffered greatly as a consequence."

"In 2001 new revelations came to light and documents were found which proved that Captain Kelly should not have gone forward for trial."

"A few politicians issued reports and tried to minimise the impact of these documents, especially after an RTE Prime Time T.V programme showed that the statement of Colonel Hefferon was altered by lawyers working for the Attorney General of the time."

"Around 20% of the Colonel's pre-trial statement was deleted. I have now got all these documents together and presented them to the Taoiseach's office."

Mrs. Kelly made a personal appeal for people to support her campaign.

"Some of the documents were deliberately withheld from the trial, which meant that all evidence relevant to the accused was not available. The person who played a large part in the setting up of the website for Captain Kelly's case to be highlighted is Mr. Fionnbarra O'Dochartaigh, an author and historian. He is a civil rights veteran who lives in Derry. Since '03 he has done Trojan work and it is through him that I can make this appeal for your solidarity. I wonder if you would use your contacts to get people to sign the petition?"

"Paper petitions are also available on request. Currently on-line there are fifty two pages with 25 names per page already but we need more to keep up the pressure. It is now a civil rights issue and needs to be highlighted as a matter of urgency", she said.

Fionnbarra O'Dochartaigh, a civil rights veteran and spokesman for the October 5th association, echoed Mrs, Kelly's appeal.

"The Kelly family deserve justice and the full facts and so does the civil rights generation. Captain Kelly was a fall guy, and the arms trial stitched him up".

To sign the online petition go to www.captainkelly.org

The campaign can be contacted at rights.civil@googlemail.com.
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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