Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams MP told a press conference in Belfast ion
Tuesday that he would not be travelling to give evidence at the Committee on
International Relations Hearing.
"Let me begin by saying at the outset that I have written to Henry Hyde, the
Chairperson of the Committee on International Relations, declining his
invitation to attend the Committee on International Relations Hearing," said
Adams. "I have offered to meet the Committee the next time I am in Washington.
"My priorities in approaching this important matter have been to defend the
peace process, to defend Sinn Féin's essential contribution to it, and to give
proper consideration to the plight of the three men presently in detention in
Colombia, their right to a fair trial and the anxieties of their families.
"I have received legal advice from the lawyers representing the three men in
Colombia. It argues that the Congressional hearings and my presence at them may
well be prejudicial to any possibility of a fair trial.
"It is also my view that the hearings are only coincidentally about Ireland.
They are essentially about the relationship between the USA and Colombia. These
matters are for the governments of these two countries.
"I am satisfied with the IRA statement of 19 September last year in which the
IRA leadership made it clear that it 'sent no one to Colombia to train or to
engage in any military cooperation with any group'. Crucially, the IRA asserted
that it 'has not interfered in the internal affairs of Colombia and will not do
so'. And it went on: 'The IRA is not a threat to the peace process in Ireland or
"In my conversations with US officials and with political representatives I have
made it clear that Irish republicans, whether as ordinary citizens or as
activists have no desire to interfere in the internal affairs of other
"We have a desire to learn from other conflict resolution processes and if
possible to be helpful to those who want to build peace.
"Irish republicans pose no threat to US National Security interests in
Colombia.Anyone who observes our record and our role in the peace process will
know our commitment to peace in our own country and throughout the world is
Bring Them Home welcomes decision
The Bring Them Home Campaign for Jim Monaghan, Niall Connolly and Martin
McCauley welcomed Adams' decision not to attend the US Congressional Hearings.
The Campaign and the legal team had requested that he not attend in the
interests of fair trial and justice.
Caitriona Ruane, a spokesperson for the campaign, said: "We welcome the decision
by Gerry Adams not to go. We made our concerns known to him, as did Peter
Madden, the men's solicitor, saying that the Hearings were inherently unfair and
that they could prejudice the right to fair trial of the three Irishmen. Gerry
Adams has put fair trial and justice before his own party interests and we
"It is unfair because the three men or their legal team have no input, they will
not be able to examine any material presented at the Hearings or refute what is
presented as 'evidence'. All this will be broadcast around the world live. We
have raised our concerns about the possible prejudicial nature of the Hearings
at the United Nations last week.
"In the run up to the Hearings we have had saturation coverage of this case,
much of it prejudicial, including extraordinary comments by the President of
Colombia, President Pastrana. These Hearings have helped create a climate
whereby people who should know better have made prejudicial comments and
endangered the lives of three Irishmen."
Madeleine Connolly, mother of Niall Connolly said: "My son will not get a fair
trial in Colombia. I am very worried about him, his life is in danger and these
hearings make it more dangerous."
IRA reiterates Colombia position
The following statement was received from the leadership of Óglaigh na hÉireann
on Wednesday, 24 April
"In recent days the issue of the arrest of three Irishmen in Colombia has been
used again in an intensive way by opponents of the peace process in Ireland and
Britain, in an attempt to undermine and subvert the democratic peace process
This is a very serious matter indeed. We therefore feel compelled to respond and
reiterate our position on this matter. We wish to make clear that:
The Army Council sent no one to Colombia to train or engage in any military
cooperation with any group.
The IRA has not interfered in the internal affairs of Colombia and will not do
The IRA is fully committed to a successful outcome of the Irish peace process.
The threat to that process does not come from the IRA."
Irish Republican Publicity Bureau