[Sinn Fein]

19 December 2000

Adams responds to Justice Minister on RTÉ Castlerea Five must be released

Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams MP, speaking in response to remarks made by Minister for Justice John O'Donoghue on the Marian Finucane Show (RTÉ Radio 1) this morning said:

``It is absolutely untrue to say that Sinn Fein was told during the Good Friday negotiations that the Castlerea prisoners would be excluded from the Good Friday Agreement prisoner early-release scheme.  These men are covered under the Good Friday Agreement and should be released now.''

Mr. Adams said:

``John O'Donoghue has made a number of  incorrect and misleading claims in relation to the case of the Castlerea Five. He says that Sinn Fein negotiators were told during the negotiations that these men would not quality.  I would like to ask the Minister:

``Sinn Fein did raise the case of these prisoners, along with others. Irish Government representatives said that if these men were sentenced that their early release would cause difficulties but Sinn Fein insisted that there could be no exceptions.   

``The absence of any clause in the Good Friday Agreement excluding these particular prisoners is proof of how the negotiations closed.

``Indeed, the criteria is as contained in the Agreement. The early-release scheme covers all prisoners who belong to organisations on cessation at the time of the Agreement.

``The Irish Government is now in breach of the Agreement in relation to this matter.

``I am very conscious of the pain of this for the McCabe family. The Castlerea prisoners are not prisoners apart. They qualify under the terms of the Good Friday Agreement and they should be released now.''

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