Colombia Three could be jailed in Ireland

Tánaiste Mary Harney, who is standing in for PD party colleague Michael McDowell as Minister for Justice, has said the Colombia Three shouldn’t underestimate the Government’s “determination to explore all the options open to it, to ensure that Ireland plays its full part in the fight against international terrorism”.

Harney said in a statement that the men were “no friends of the peace process” and insisted that no deal had been done with Sinn Féin.

She added that the Transfer of Execution of Sentences Bill 2003, which is currently going through the Dáil, provides for a person to serve in Ireland a sentence imposed in the state from which they fled.

“The question of the three men serving their sentences here in Ireland in the event of extradition proceedings being unsuccessful is one of the issues which the Government has been considering,” she said.

The provisions of the Bill will apply before or after it is signed into law.

Harney also revealed that Garda enquiries into where the men are hiding and whether they breached Irish laws were continuing but that while Colombian police had contacted Gardaí, no extradition request has yet been made.

There are unconfirmed reports that the men have been in Ireland since March.

  • slug

    Good blog and good Harney idea.

  • martin

    no no never never never TREASON.

  • GavBelfast

    It sounds like an eminently sensible idea from an eminently sensible woman.

    It would also save an awful lot of face.

    By the way, what do others think of this ‘Republic as a weak link’ in European security terms being aired on some media today – that if three well known fugitives (whatever about a new hairstyle) can sneak back into the country, what of unknown undesireables.

    Is the Republic doomed to complacency on the issue of security?

  • martin

    Mary”shop-arround”Horney an eminently sensible woman!—-bursts of convulsive laughter.

  • middle-class taig

    I don’t see any reason why they shouldn’t go down for the Irish law offence of travelling on a false Irish passport. No doubt there are any number of blueshirt judges slavering to get throwing the book at them on it. What’s the max they can get on that charge?

    However, and trying to be objective here for a moment (can we just try, please), I really don’t see how a state which is a signatory to the European Convention on Human Rights can seriously be considering:

    (a) extraditing three of its nationals to a country famed for human rights abuse (particularly against the very left wing activists they were charged with assisting), and where they may well be exposed to very serious risk of assassination or torture. Didn’t the British have a very similar issue a few years ago in relation to a death row convict whose extradition was sought by a US State which used “the chair”? I’m sure it went to Strasbourg and the UK lost; and

    (b) enforcing a prison sentence imposed by what appears to have been a quasi-military star-chamber that even one of its members couldn’t stomach. How could our state rubber-stamp such a flagrant breach of internationally accepted fair trial rights? What are the boundaries of the State’s human rights law obligations when its assistance is sought by a non-Strasbourg country? Any CAJ members out there who might offer some insight?

    If the state wants to bring proceedings in Ireland for mercenary activities, or something like that, it should present evidence.

    I understand that if we show contempt for Colombian justice there’s little incentive for them to improve. However, their handling of this case has deserved contempt.

    Personally, I think these three guys have ballsed the peace process up no end. I’ve no idea what they were doing there, and am prepared to accept the politico-journo-tourism angle. I can imagine being interested in that kind of thing. Certainly, I consider the idea of the FARC learning anything from Niall Connolly frankly risible. However, it was unutterably stupid to go there when they did. Of course it was going to give the unionists another barricade to erect, of course it was going to give Dublin and London more grist for the go-slow mill, and of course it was going to drive the Yanks nuts. Can someone explain to me what these fellas hoped to gain by going there? Appalling judgment.

    They set themselves up, and screwed the nationalist people for a couple of years in doing so. I’d like to hear them explain themselves as to why my democratic rights had to be jeopardised to satisfy their adventurism.

  • slug

    Gerry Adams has declared himself “delighted” at their return to Ireland.

  • middle-class taig

    ….and another thing.

    It’s nuts for FF to get dragged into playing the role of extra in this PD eroto-fantasy. The PDs aren’t the ones competing with the Shinners for the oul “ah-fair-play-till-dem” vote or the “broad black brimmer” vote.

    Sticking these lads up against yet another wall would give SF an electoral bonanza, but weaken Adams with the hard lads.

    I think the way out of this is dinging them with the passport offence, sticking them in the cooler for a year or so, but subtracting some of the extensive time served. Is 6 months livable with?

    That would uphold Irish democracy and deliver at least a bit of a spank.

  • David

    I don’t see any reason why they shouldn’t go down for the Irish law offence of travelling on a false Irish passport. No doubt there are any number of blueshirt judges slavering to get throwing the book at them on it. What’s the max they can get on that charge?

    Were they not travelling on false British Passports?

  • middle-class taig

    Can’t remember, now you come to mention it. I know the IT was saying a few days ago that the passports thing was an Irish law offence.

    False British passports should come within the Offences Against the State Act. 🙂

  • George

    My understanding is that Connolly used a false Irish passport to enter Colombia while Monaghan and McCauley both travelled on false British passports.

    Also, just as an FYI, there is “only” a Red Notice out from Interpol which is not an international arrest warrant.

    It is only considered a valid request for provisional arrest if there is a prior agreement.

  • Keith M

    The PDs to the rescue once agan!. The whole issue of extradition is such a quagmire, that this solution is a “win-win”, that will suit both governments.

  • middle-class taig

    But Keith, it has to comply with human rights legislation. How do see them squaring that circle? You’re the “rule of law” man.

  • Jimmy_Sands

    “Is 6 months livable with?”

    Why not? It’s not like the mortars killed anyone white.

  • Levitas

    I would’nt get too excited about Mary’s little kite…its only playing to a section of the ROI’s electorate….the provo hating, middle classes who sit and harumph approvingly over their Sindo’s…Its a turf war with Enda Kenny of Fine Gael to show who’s “least soft” on the shinners, these are the same sort of voters who hate all travellers, despise all asylum seekers, and don’t count 6 county nationalists as really Irish….the “gombeen” vote in other words. They have always been a significant section of Irish society, they are merely the political descendents of the old pro-union catholics of the late 19th century.
    As for her suggestion? I think Sinn Fein will be lapping it up, what with her and Ian Paisley junior taking turns on the same Lambeg drum, its making it very clear where the PD’s sympathies lie, and Sinn Fein love the DUP/FG/PD’s to be singing from similar hymnsheets,doesnt it emphasise the fault-lines in the Irish cabinet further, making FF no 1’s more likely to plump for an SF no 2 and vice versa since FF are now behaving most civilly to SF indeed, I wonder why??
    Furthermore I think she has misjudged the mood in the ROI on this one, most people think they were awful eejits, buts that not an offence that warrants 17 years in the Bogota Hilton or in Portlaoise,most would agree they have been through enough…What Mary does’nt get is that a popular conception would be that they may well have displayed a surprising degree of stupidity in going there in the first place,but three years in that Columbian hellhole awaiting the distinct likelihood of being killed by either the security forces, prison warders, or right wing death squad inmates is probably enough of a drubbing.

  • Malachi

    Two travelled on false British passports. Could the British seek to extradite them from Ireland on that charge? If so, would the British then be free to send those two to Colombia?

  • bootman

    can somebody explain how exactly these men have anything to do with the peace process?

    let the courts deal with this and let unionists stop interfering in the judicial process in the south

  • G2

    “can somebody explain how exactly these men have anything to do with the peace process?”

    Bootman,

    It wouldn’t have had much to do with the peace process had the (C3) not openly declared their presence back in Ireland to RTE shortly after the IRA statement was made to the media. The statement says:

    “Volunteers must not engage in any other activities whatsoever”.

    Gerry Adams & others may have stepped down from the Army council, but this *ACTIVITY* stunt (which may delight those who love Irish republician romantic stunts of sticking fingers Unionist or British establishment noses, may not work when its done to their own ROI establishment.

    The Unionist or British establishment are not directly involved here. Indeed its their fellow Irish republician (FF & FG) establishment noses in Lenster House who have been twitched, and they are not too pleased.

    This *ACTIVITY* stunt by SF -PIRA may indeed back fire and the (C3) end up in jail in EIRE. What then of SF’s future in the ROI?

    When the showdown begins between SF and other political parties in the ROI, Gerry & Martin wont be able to cry to the ROI electorate we are 2nd class victims of British Imperialism and Orange bigots.

  • BogExile

    I can just imagine the mandarins at the NIO filling their trousers at the prospect of having any jurisdiction over the fate of these three eejits. The syntactical contortions required to appease the Shinners and at the same time be seen to please the US by acting tough on alleged narco-terrorists would make Houdini look like an amateur.

  • Keith M

    MCT : “But Keith, it has to comply with human rights legislation. How do see them squaring that circle? You’re the “rule of law” man.

    Any legislation being enacted by the Oireachtas has to reviewed by the AG. There’s obviously no issue here.

  • middle-class taig

    Keith M

    The AG is not a court. The AG is a political figure. There’s a huge legal issue here, whether you like it or not.

    Or are we seeing the standard neocon doctrine, that rule of law is paramount unless it’s “people we don’t like”?

  • Dandyman

    Yet again the media and PD politicians are understimating the latent armchair republicanism of people south of the border. If they don’t drop the idea of these guys being extradited to Colombia pretty sharpish, my prediction is that they will see a noticeable slump in popularity in the next poll.

    I can assure you of one thing: there is no-one anywhere in Munster, all up along the west coast of this island, or anywhere in the midlands, or on the border region, who wants to see those men within 100 miles of an extradition warrant, and the politician who proposes the idea that they should be jailed or extradited having been acquited in the original trial in Colombia, will pay a heavy price. Enda Kenny came dangerously close to committing career suicide on NEWSTALK 106 this morning, but pulled back from the brink at the last minute. Never mind the “Ah sure everybody knows what they were up to, blah blah blah…”. Are we living in a democracy or not? Can someone please present some concrete evidence that these men were doing something wrong before this goes any further. It’s getting completely ridiculous.

  • martin

    I would query the Irish judicial system when it contains the likes of Brian Curtain

  • middle-class taig

    Jimmy Sands

    I missed your execrable comment first time. If you want to try to paint me a racist for thinking that upholding the rule of law in Ireland is more important than jailing three men for 17 years in an evidentiary vacuum, then knock yourself out. I doubt anyone will take you any more seriously on that than they do on anything else.

    If, by sheer fluke, you have anything more to offer than your smart, lazy mouth, then let’s hear it. If you don’t shut your beak.

  • Jocky

    What I find funny about this situation is the sheer Britishness of the Republican arguement.

    It’s like some Daily Mail outrage at some poor Brit that been stitched up by some 3rd world country for drugs, violence, coup plot or whatever. Get our boys home away from the uppity foeigners. The self aggrandising, almost imperialistic dimsissal of Columbian justice all dressed up in nicities of a concern for legalities and rights. Cant beat a good moral outrage about our innate superiorty to others.

    If one doesnt want to be at the mercies of Columbian justice one shouldnt go to Columbia. Likewise any fugutive that turns up here, send them back.

  • George

    Jocky,
    the issue for the Irish state is not about them being Irish Republicans, it is about them being Irish citizens. It woudn’t matter if they were Jehovah’s Witnesses.

    You may want to send them back but even you must realise that you can’t be deported from your own country, you have to be extradited, which is a legal process.

    There is no extradition treaty with Colombia, there is no outstanding warrant, international or otherwise, so what is your point?

    Fugitives from Colombian justice yes but they are not wanted here and it is not the responsibility of the Irish state to implement Colombian law.

  • martin

    GEORGE,

    What short memories people have.

    Micky Mc Dowell has had no problem deporting whatsoever deporting persons -mostly children-who were born in this country to other countries where human rights abuses are rampant

    —ok you could argue that those children were not deported but that their parents who were illegal assylum seekers were-

    what would be the term for the Irish kids who had to leave with their parents whos applications for assylum turned down—–CONSTRUCTIVE DEPORTATION ??

  • middle-class taig

    whatever the term, Martin, it was and is an obscenity

  • Keith M

    MCG “The AG is not a court. The AG is a political figure. There’s a huge legal issue here, whether you like it or not.”

    No, the AG, is a legal figure who guides the government on legislation. He is not elected and his main job is to ensure that all legislation is ethical, enforecable constitutional.

    There has been no objection to inprisoning in Ireland, Irish crimals convicted abroad raised so far.

    There is not only a legal issue here but one of justice, dangerous men like this cannot be allowed get away with their crimes.

  • Dessertspoon

    Who are you trying to kid Keith – “dangerous men like this cannot be allowed get away with their crimes..”

    Dangerous men like that have been getting away with it for centuries.

    I could care less where the Colombia 3 go or don’t go. The Colombians are well connected they can handle this themselves.

  • middle-class taig

    Keith

    “No, the AG, is a legal figure … and his main job is to ensure that all legislation is ethical, enforecable constitutional.”

    His main job is to promote government policy by rubberstamping it as to its legality. Don’t act as if you’re teaching an A’Level class on here please.

    “There is not only a legal issue here but one of justice”

    My, my, what new words we’re learning!! Interesting that you discover this thirst for justice over law when it might work against republicans, rather than for them. I had you pegged wrongly; you’re not the rule of law man after all. You’re the “rule of law for me and people I like” man. Your inconsistency is too laughable for words.

    “dangerous men like this cannot be allowed get away with their crimes”

    Interesting that the court that actually heard the evidence didn’t think they had committed any crimes, other than the passport offence.

    Here, anyway, I thought this legislation was Schengen related anyway. Is it to have effect beyond the EU?

  • Dandyman

    By the way everyone, what about Mark Thatcher’s shenanigans over in Equatorial Guinea last year? Why was he allowed to just walk away from that, and should the UK not extradite him to answer for his ALLEGED part in trying to organise a coup there? And he wasn’t even tried, let alone acquitted of the charges brought against him.

    Short memories, indeed…

  • me

    is ireland safe house for killers

  • Keith M

    Dessertspoon “Dangerous men like that have been getting away with it for centuries.” Maybe, but they don’t go on television taunting the Irish legal system, and just because people have (literally) gotten away with murder in the past, doesn’t mean that we should now turn a blind eye.

  • Dandyman

    How exactly are they ‘taunting the Irish legal system’?I mean come on, if the Gardai want to speak to them, they know perfectly well where to find them and don’t be kidding yourself that they don’t.

    On the other hand, maybe I’m the one being extremely naive and there IS a big troop of overweight, sweaty, red-faced Guards patrolling the roads and boreens all over the Irish countryside right now, poking long-handled shilleleaghs (or however you spell the feckin word) into the ditch and calling, “are’ee in there lads? Ah c’mon now lads, come out now..’tis not funny no more” in a big thick OIRISH brogue a la Tommy Lee Jones in ‘Blown Away’. Let me consider this scenario for a moment…

    Alright. I will concede that the above scenario IS possible, if notquite likely. But I think it’s more realistic to imagine that the Guards at least have contacts through whom they can find out where these lads are/ arrange some kind of a meeting with them or their representatives.

    It IS still Northern ireland-related events we’re talking about here, after all..

  • George

    Martin,
    I take your point on what happened on that.

    Legally these children were allowed to stay, it was the parents who were deported and they took their children with them.

    The children weren’t deported though. In their reality, they were deported but in the legal reality they were not.

    The parents could have left them as charges of the state or friends.

    Constructive deportation would be a good description, obscenity would be a better one.

    However, this practise happens every day in the UK and the rest of Europe and has been for years, the only difference is that the children in those countries had no rights in the first place.

    This is why they had to change the constitution so as to allow citizenship to be decided by legislation as it is in the UK and the rest of Europe.

    I was against it as I thought it great that Ireland was the only country in Europe to offer automatic citizenship. It was a retrograde step in my view.

  • George

    Keithm,
    there is no warrant out for these men’s arrest so how are they taunting anyone? If a warrant is issued and then they go on telly you might have a case.

    MCT,
    Ireland didn’t sign up to Schengen in order to protect its Common Travel Area with the UK, which wouldn’t sign up.

  • middle-class taig

    George

    So how does this legislation work? I read somewhere it was just sbout interEU coooperation – is that incorrect?

  • barnshee

    MCT

    Inter EC travel is either Schengen or non Schengen. The signatories to the Schengen agreement accept a common external frontier. i.e. once you are inside the Schengen area you travel without going through immigration.

    The assumption is that if you have entered the Schengen area legally you can go anwhere in it. This means in effect that France for example trusts Germany to police the eastern borders of the EC for both of them.

    The UK declined to join mostly I think because of fears on immigration, The republic was then forced to either stay out or join and establish immigration barriers with the UK (including NI).

    Barbed wire fences and crossing points on the border anyone mmmmm it has its attractions

  • Robert Keogh

    What happens to U.S. soldiers who are charged with aiding and abetting an international terrorist organization?

    I’m sure all those demanding the 3 be sent to Columbia will be able to furnish us with copies of the letters they are sending to the US demanding that they stop harbouring terrorists. Or maybe photos of themselves making these protests outside their local US embassy?

    Surely they wouldn’t be hypocritically silent when the US is guilty of harbouring international terrorists?

    Right?

  • Jimmy_Sands

    You silver tongued devil, MCT. How to answer such a compelling counter argument. The point here is whether the Inauguration Day massacre had occurred in Ireland you would consider six months a sufficient slap on the wrist for those complicit.

    Your plea for “the rule of law” in Ireland was, however, very very funny indeed.

  • Robert Keogh

    The point here is whether the Inauguration Day massacre had occurred in Ireland you would consider six months a sufficient slap on the wrist for those complicit.

    I don’t know about Ireland, but if it happened in Britain there would have been an official whitewash and the perpetrators would go on to have long careers within the military – just like Bloody Sunday.

  • middle-class taig

    “Your plea for “the rule of law” in Ireland was, however, very very funny indeed.”

    Why?

    “The point here is whether the Inauguration Day massacre had occurred in Ireland you would consider six months a sufficient slap on the wrist for those complicit.”

    Wow. You have evidence of the C3’s complicity in that atrocity? Can you please pass it on.

    Or can you only offer your stock-in-trade, snide innuendo?

  • Jimmy Sands

    Robert,

    Well let’s just hope the people of Bogata are happy with that answer.

    MCT

    My mistake. They were birdwatching. My bad.

    Incidentally, is concern for the rule of law a concern which, in your view, people of other countries (Colombia for example) are entitled to share? What, in your view, is the relationship between the rule of law and bail jumping?

  • middle-class taig

    Jimmy

    So, you’d have had Afghan women respect the rule of Afghan law by waering their burkha? Should we extradite wanted members of the MDC to Zimbabwe for breach of the rule of law in that country? DO you think it’s ok for Christians in China to be persecuted because they’re not observing the rule of law in their country?

    Ireland is a democratic state with safeguards undreamt of in Colombia and under effective international scrutiny through the Council of Europe, the European Union and other organisations.

    The Colombian appeal court’s judgment made an international mockery of the rule of law in that country.

    The obligation of the state to observe the rule of law is not contingent upon its observance by mere private citizens. It is the very bedrock of a democratic system. Without observing the rule of law the State is worthless. I note how swiftly you would dispense with it, in order to achieve the political result you desire. I am struck by the relativist context within which you set the rule of law. How cheap democracy must seem to you.

  • anne

    Great site, some hilarious comments, thanks for the laughs. From the Colombian perspective the last thing they want is the 3 back again, they deliberately let them go in the first place as the ‘trial’ was such an expensive and embarrassing failure. It’s all posturing and hot air.

  • anne

    Great site, some hilarious comments, thanks for the laughs. From the Colombian perspective the last thing they want is thoe 3 back again, they deliberately let them go in the first place as the ‘trial’ was such an expensive and embarrassing failure. It’s all posturing and hot air.

  • Jimmy_Sands

    MCT,

    your comparisons are preposterous. Whatever the complaints one may have about the systems in less enlightened jurisdictions in our own, none of us has the right as visitors to those countries to claim to be exempt from them.

    I accept the obligations of a state are unconditional and have never suggested otherwise, I do not believe however that these obligations extend to ensuring that mercenaries can participate in Latin American civil wars on a risk-free basis.

  • George

    MCT,
    Schengen removed border controls and the necessity to show passports with the member countries. It is not just EU, I think Norway and Iceland are also members.

    http://www.auswaertiges-amt.de/www/en/willkommen/einreisebestimmungen/schengen_html

  • veritas

    One of the more dreadful outbursts that has occurred during this “Columbia three” affair has been that of Mary Harney. It would seem that Ms. Harney prefers to cater to the lusts of her bluecoat constituency rather than to consider the rights of Irish citizens to due process. Has she forgotten the lessons of the Birmingham 6 and the Guilford 4 ? As a minister of the government of Ireland she has to not only ensure that Ireland is in compliance with its international obligations and agreements, but has also to respect the rights accorded to Irish citizens. The right to a fair trial is one which we should all expect our ministers to defend to the utmost. Should the Columbia three be handed over to a government anywhere, without due process in an Irish court, this would be abominable. This affair should be fully examined by an Irish judicial process and should not be subjected to external political pressures from any quarter. Ministers are differently obliged from other politicians, and should separate their political opinions from their duties to us all as citizens. See “Bunreacht na h-Eireann” for a full understanding of one’s rights
    http://www.taoiseach.gov.ie/attached_files/html%20files/Constitution%20of%20Ireland%20(Eng).htm

    See articles 40, subsections 3.1,3.2,4.1 and 6.1(i)

  • alfie

    In calling for the immediate arrest and extradition of the Colombia Three, the DUP, even by its standards, is guilty of hypocrisy of breathtaking proportions by echoing the words of US president George Bush, aimed at Taoiseach Bertie Ahern, “Those who harbour terrorists are terrorists”.

    In April 1989, three Ulster loyalists were arrested in Paris when caught handing over ground-to-air missile launchers to a South African diplomat.

    One of those arrested was an arms instructor in the British Territorial Army, and along with several DUP figures, was a founding member of Ulster Resistance, a force recruited to combat the rise of Irish nationalism.

    South Africa was a primary source of arms shipments to loyalists in both Scotland and Northern Ireland in exchange for missile plans which were secured at Shorts Factory in east Belfast, and members of Ulster Resistance were pivotal to these exchanges.

    Apart from lodging a formal complaint with the South African ambassador to Britain, which was ignored, the matter was allowed to die.

    If, on the basis of the evidence produced in court in Bogota, the Colombia Three were “intricately involved in the global terrorist network” then surely many DUP figures have some questions to answer regarding their connections with Ulster Resistance.