The suspension of the early release licence of Séan Kelly, convicted of the Shankill bombing in 1993, has started a ripple of statements that have the potential to cause even more problems ahead. Taoiseach Bertie Ahern is the latest to comment on the case, and his phrasing of the question is likely to cause a few furrowed brows.. again. But the ball started rolling with a terse statement from Peter Hain on Saturday that was disappointingly short on detail. And it’s the lack of detail, so far, that has allowed others to step into the narrative gap with their own speculation on the decision.
SF’s Conor Murphy yesterday also described the decision as Peter Hain’s “first serious mistake” – according to this Irish Times report[reg. req.]
That lack of detail has been sketched in by suggestions in a couple of reports.. but, with the decision to suspend the early release of Kelly following so closely on from the statements in the House of Commons from the DUP’s Jeffrey Donaldson and Nigel Dodds[16 Jun 2005 : Column 491], combined with SF’s position on the re-arrest of Séan Kelly, “wrong and unjustified” according to SF’s Conor Murphy, and Gerry Kelly’s statement that “He [Séan Kelly – no relation] has also played an invaluable and positive role in keeping the situation calm at interfaces in North Belfast.” – although many would see that as a somewhat unsuitable role – means that the final decision on his early release licence, to be taken by the Independent Sentence Review Commissioners, will be closely examined.
As the SDLP’s Alban Maginness indicated, it’s a case that needs as much detail as possible made public.
And, as with so many situations here, I’d suggest we would all benefit from a lot more light.