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Bid to clear Kelly is making progress

(Seamus McKinney, Irish News)

A Derry-based campaign to clear the name of an Irish army captain involved a high-profile 1970s arms trial appears to be making progress.

Captain Jim Kelly, now deceased, was charged along with former taoiseach Charles Haughey, former minister Neil T Blaney, former Sinn Féin assembly member John Kelly and businessman Albert Luxx with illegally importing arms into Ireland in 1970.

Four of the five men went forward for trial after it was claimed they were importing arms for transfer to Northern Ireland. All four were acquitted but the crisis rocked the Irish state to its foundations.

Captain Kelly worked as an intelligence officer for the Irish army and in the late 1960s was a key conduit between the Irish government and the northern nationalist community.

Despite his acquittal, Captain Kelly's family claim his reputation never recovered and that he was shunned by the Irish state.

Along with Derry civil rights veteran Fionnbarra O Dochartaigh, Captain Kelly's widow Sile Kelly has been campaigning for a government statement on her husband's innocence.

They also want a plaque dedicated to his memory erected at the Irish army's Dublin headquarters.

On Friday Mrs Kelly and two of her daughters met senior officials from the taoiseach's department for the first time.

According to Mr O Dochartaigh, the meeting was a productive one and the officials agreed to meet Mrs Kelly again.

At the next meeting a file detailing all the evidence of her husband's innocence and his subsequent treatment by the state will be handed over by Mrs Kelly.

December 27, 2005

This article appeared first in the December 15, 2005 edition of the Irish News.

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