16 March 2005 Edition

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Ferris welcomes statement from Castlerea POWs

Sinn Féin TD for Kerry North, Martin Ferris welcomed last Sunday afternoon's statement from Castlerea prisoners Kevin Walsh, Pearse McCauley, Jeremiah Sheehy and Michael O'Neill. The men, convicted in relation to the 1996 killing of Garda Jerry McCabe, stated that they do not want their release to be part of any further negotiations with the Irish Government because the cause of peace is too important for their case to be used as an obstacle to negotiations.

"This was a difficult decision for the men and their families, particularly as the government had twice agreed to their release," said Ferris.

"I believe their apology to the McCabe and O'Sullivan families is genuine, as is their desire not to be used as a blockage to ongoing efforts to rebuild the Peace Process.

"Sinn Féin will continue to campaign for the release of the four men but we will honour their request that this will not be part of negotiations."

The full text of the men's statement follows:

We deeply regret the death of Garda Jerry McCabe and the wounding of Garda Ben O'Sullivan during an IRA operation in Adare in June 1996. We deeply regret and apologise for this and the hurt and grief we have caused to their families. There was never any intent to attack any members of the Garda Síochana.

We are qualifying IRA prisoners under the Good Friday Agreement. This has been confirmed by the High Court and the Supreme Court.

The Irish Government have an obligation to release us. They have refused to do so and are now presenting our release as an obstacle to negotiations and an agreement.

For this reason we do not want our release to be part of any further negotiations with the Irish government.

We are totally committed to the Peace Process. We will not allow ourselves to be used as political pawns or hostages to undermine this process. The cause of lasting peace is too important.

Kevin Walsh, Pearse McCauley, Jeremiah Sheehy and Michael O'Neill

An Phoblacht
44 Parnell Sq.
Dublin 1

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