[Sinn Fein]

30th March 2003

Sinn Fein Ard Fheis 2003

Sean Crowe TD, speaking to motion 319 on the Colombia Three

On the 11th of August, 2001, Niall Connolly, Martin McCauley and Jim Monaghan were arrested by the Colombia security forces in Bogota. They have spent over 500 days in the worst kind of prisons imaginable in danger from attacks by right wing paramilitaries.

They have been held on the flimsiest of evidence by a Government whose human rights record would disgrace Saddam Hussein. But because America backs the Colombia government, hundreds of millions of dollars go to shoring up a Colombian military which has murdered Trade Unionists, journalists, political activists and ordinary civilians.

If the trial against the men has proved anything, it is that there is no evidence against these men.

I have visited the men on two occasions and will be going to see them again next week to continue to observe the trial. I will carry with them the best wishes of this Ard Fhéis and I know they appreciate the support Sinn Fein has given these men.

I would also thank those people outside of Sinn Fein who are standing up for these men. The Colombia Three have been used as a political football by everyone from David Trimble to Pat Rabbitte. Clearly, we can only expect this Government to protect the human rights of those of its citizens who are not republicans.

I ask your support for this motion in order that we might send out from this Ard Fhéis a very, very simple message to the Dublin Government, the Colombian Government and real power in Colombia, the American government. The message is this. Bring them home.

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