Declaration of Jim Monaghan
"Former political prisoners have always played a central role in Irish
Republican politics. Today many of the political leaders within Sinn Féin are
former political prisoners. The role of prisoners and former prisoners was
recognised as crucial to the development of the peace process within the
community at local level.
An organisation called Coiste na n-Iarchimí was established. Its primary aim was
to help former prisoners reintegrate into society and to enable them to use
their abilities to shape the new society that will emerge from the Irish Peace
In 1999/2000 I was granted a position within Coiste. It was a full-time paid
position. I was the director of a new sub-unit in Dublin called Tar Isteach. My
job, indeed the project, was funded by the Irish government as part of the peace
process. Similar projects were and are funded by the British government in the
north of Ireland.
Many of the discussions that we had during the course of our work in Coiste
identified the need for social justice and how that could be achieved. We
recognised the need to study other situations and see how conflict resolution
processes were developing. To do that we knew that it was necessary to meet face
to face with others in different countries who were engaged in broadly similar
Witnesses have already explained in detail the problems facing former prisoners
including travel restrictions. With these problems come dangers. Because of
these and previous experiences in travel shared by each of us we felt it wiser
and safer to travel by legitimate means but using a different identity.
I came to know Martin McCauley through the ex-prisoner community, our friendship
developed when Martin and his family were forced to move near Dublin following
threats to their lives. I have known Niall Connolly for a number of years. He is
a native of Dublin and returns there on his regular trips home from Latin
America. I knew Niall worked on humanitarian projects in that region. The three
of us share the same broad political interests. Niall and I travelled to
Nicaragua together a few years ago.
In the summer of 2001 the three of us travelled to Colombia principally to see
the peace process but also to enjoy a holiday. For reasons already stated the
three of us travelled with different names. We travelled openly and the way all
other travellers would. We visited the peace zone.
We spent several weeks in the zone. We talked to a great many people. We shared
experiences about the peace processes in Ireland and Colombia.
We discussed the involvement of outsiders in such processes. From an Irish
perspective the advice and experiences of people involved in South Africa,
Palestine, East Timor and other regions in Latin America were very important.
We discussed the process of becoming involved in a political system seen as
hostile and the gains and the problems that resulted from such a course of
action. We talked at length about the role of former prisoners in political
developments in Ireland and the Irish peace process.
We met with members of the FARC. We learnt from them about the great number of
visitors and political representatives who had visited the zone. This included
members of the Colombian government and many people from outside Colombia.
Since we were arrested at El Dorado airport there has been a constant flow of
misinformation and false allegations against us. The Embassies of the United
States and Britain have both intervened to distort the truth. We were then
driven to a military barracks, northamerican officials were present. After this
we were brought to the Prosecutor's office. Everything was happening very fast,
there were a lot of soldiers about. We denied meeting the FARC initially because
we thought it would make matters worse for us.
The US forensics have been exposed as bogus. The stories of satellite pictures,
video tapes and so on have been proven to be false. The British Embassy alleged
that I am a member of the IRA. It is illegal in Ireland, North and South, and in
England to belong to the IRA. I have lived openly, and travelled to all parts of
Ireland over the past 17 years. I have not been arrested or charged in relation
to any of these allegations. I reject them. I am not a member of the IRA.
False evidence has been presented to this court. This is clear in the case of
the US Embassy. The British Embassy also presented as factual evidence what
amounts to no more than wild claims. Witnesses produced by the Colombian
military have been proved to have given false testimony.
The charge of training the FARC is a false charge, based on false evidence. The
training never happened, and I and my friends are therefore not guilty.
I would like to conclude by thanking my family and friends who have supported me
in every way since my arrest. The work carried out on our behalf by everyone
involved in the "Bring Them Home" Campaign has given us strength
Thank you all.
Declaration of Martin McCauley
Following the signing of the Good Friday Agreement and the International
Commission headed by Chris Patten, a former British government minister and
former British Governor of Hong Kong, was established to make recommendations
for the creation of a new police service that would be acceptable to all
sections of the community. I gave evidence to this Commission based on my own
experiences at the hands of the RUC. As a result of my court case and the
publicity it received I was subjected to a campaign of vicious harassment by the
RUC and the British military. A bomb was placed at my home. At that time I was
legally represented by Rosemary Nelson, a human rights lawyer. Rosemary was
threatened by the RUC. In 1999 the same death squads that had killed Pat
Finucane, killed Rosemary Nelson.
I was in genuine fear for the safety of myself and my family. I moved from the
North of Ireland, which is under British occupation and went to live in the
Prior to moving south, I had been involved with former political prisoners in
Lurgan, Co. Armagh. When I had settled into my new home I became reinvolved with
work for former prisoners. I re-established contact with Jim Monaghan who I had
met previously. Through this work I became involved in discussions and debates
on conflict and conflict resolution.
I met Niall Connolly through Jim, following a discussion on Latin America. When
the idea of the trip to Colombia arose I agreed to travel with Jim and Niall. I
had never been to Latin America, and I was interested in visiting this continent
and seeing their peace process.
I have lived openly, north and south for 20 years. I have been in regular
employment. Part of my employment involved me adapting motor vehicles for use by
people with disabilities. I have travelled openly all over Ireland. I have not
been charged with any of the offences alleged by the RUC or the British Embassy.
I am not a member of the IRA. I am not guilty of the charges laid out against me
in this court.
Like my two friends I was using another name. Each of us had experience of
threats, harassment and violence in shared and different situations. There is
nothing more than a desire to travel unhindered in the fact that I was
travelling on another name. I have explained how my life and those of my family
have been threatened. I have explained how two human rights lawyers who have
worked on my behalf [Pat Finucane and Rosemary Nelson] were murdered by
pro-British death squads.
I am a supporter of Irish republicanism. I have worked within my community to
help give a political voice to their views. I am not a member of Sinn Féin. I
have worked for Sinn Féin candidates in elections. I believe in the right of the
Irish people to control their destiny free from foreign occupation and
The peace process in Ireland continues to survive but it has been undermined and
attacked by elements within the British political and military establishment and
from pro-British forces in Ireland. Our arrest in Colombia has been used by
these and other elements to further undermine the peace process. Elements in the
Colombian military and the political establishment have fed lies and
misinformation to the media to serve their own interests. The Embassy of the
United States cannot escape criticism for its role in this affair. Their
so-called forensic evidence against us is fraudulent and misleading.
I wish to directly refute the evidence given by Captain Pulido. At no stage did
I speak with this man. At the airport I was not asked for my passport nor was I
asked my name at the time of my arrest. Captain Pulido's testimony is wrong.
In conclusion, I wish to thank my family and friends, the legal and political
observers who have travelled great distances to help us, and everyone involved
in the Bring Them Home campaign.
Declaration of Niall Connolly
I have been interested in Latin America and the politics of the region since the
While living in Cuba I was able to gain employment and put my knowledge of
Spanish and English to good use. I worked as a translator. On occasion, as the
court has heard in evidence, I was employed as a guide for visiting politicians
I became active in political mobilisation against the British political and
military occupation of part of Ireland in the 1980s. In particular, I was
influenced by the hunger strike in 1981 when ten Irish prisoners died in a
British prison. I participated in campaigns and protests during this period. I
support Sinn Féin and wherever I was, at home or abroad, I made myself available
to promote the aims of Sinn Féin. I am a supporter of the Irish peace process
and the efforts of leaders like Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness who are
striving to bring about a lasting peace with social justice.
I visited Ireland regularly. During one of my visits home I got to know Jim
Monaghan. Jim was aware of my work in Latin America and was eager to hear my
While in Dublin in early 2001 I met with Jim and a number of other people
including Martin McCauley, who had been involved in discussions about conflict
situations and conflict resolution processes around the world.
As a result of this meeting I agreed to undertake a trip to Colombia with Jim
and Martin. I had travelled with Jim previously and my knowledge of Spanish was
a primary reason for asking me to accompany them.
I have experienced first hand the reconciliation process in Nicaragua and El
Salvador. I have followed the peace process in Guatemala. I have an interest in
the Colombian peace process along with other issues that effect politics in
Latin America. When we visited Colombia, the country was trying, through
dialogue between the government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia
to define positions that would be used as the foundation for a peace process.
The government had given political status to the FARC. Observers from around the
world came to learn and to offer solidarity in the search for peace with social
justice. I was motivated by my desire to see firsthand another process of
conflict resolution in motion. I believed that an historic opportunity had been
created between the government and the insurgents in one of the oldest conflicts
in Latin America. I hope that a new process of reconciliation with social
justice will develop in the future in Colombia.
When we were arrested by the Colombian military there were no warrants for our
It became clear that false and irresponsible information was being leaked by the
British Embassy. I was described as a member of the IRA. I have never been
arrested or questioned about such an allegation. It is false. I am not a member
of the IRA.
The intervention of officials from the US Embassy in the taking of the forensic
samples and the subsequent media leaks from both the US and British embassies
was an attempt to damage and undermine the Colombian peace process. The
so-called forensic evidence has been proven to be false.
Our arrests and the mass of information and false stories that have followed
have also been used to damage and undermine the Irish peace process. The Irish
peace process is at an advanced stage. Yet more work needs to be done. My
friends have spoken about the process of political recognition and status, the
process of negotiations between the governments of Ireland, Britain and America
and Irish republicans.
Since our arrest the Fiscal [prosecutor], instead of fulfilling his duty and
responsibilities to guarantee that justice is done, has arrogantly thrown the
presumption of innocence into the dustbin, along with the independence of his
The Fiscal has failed to guarantee that procedures are respected and that the
evidence is analysed in a just and impartial way. Confidential details about our
case have been given to the media to upset and damage our opportunity to get a
fair trial. Fabricated forensics was allowed, while DAS tests that showed that
there were no traces of explosives or drugs were kept out.
We have been placed in jails in Colombia under the recommendation of the Fiscal
while our lives have been in danger, and in the opinion of one judge, who
ordered our transfer, we have been subject to degrading and inhumane treatment.
Obstacles have been placed in our way and that of our lawyers when we were
trying to prepare our defence. Our lawyers' lives are in danger because of the
statements made in the media, many of them by prominent politicians.
Our lawyers from Colombia and Ireland will show that without a shadow of a doubt
that we are not guilty as charged. They will also show that this case should
never have been brought to this court. I am not guilty of the charges laid
against me. I come here today to remind the Fiscal of my rights, my
international rights of the Presumption of Innocence.
The determination of our families and the Bring Them Home Campaign led by
Caitríona Ruane, the presence of international observers from Australia, the
United States, Ireland and the presence of the Irish government observers at
this trial, the messages from all around the world of support and the active
support of thousands of people in Ireland has given us much moral support and I
thank you from the bottom of my heart.