Jack Quann
Jack Quann

10.15 13 May 2020


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Former Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams has won a Supreme Court appeal in Britain against two convictions for attempting to escape from the Maze Prison in the 1970s.

Judges agreed that his detention was unlawful because it had not been 'considered personally' by the then-Northern Ireland secretary.

As a result, the convictions have been quashed.

It related to his interment in 1973 and two convictions - in March 1975 and April 1975 - for two attempted escapes from internment in December 1973 and July 1974.

Mr Adams has called on the British government to identify and inform other internees whose internment may also have been unlawful.

In a statement following the appeal, he said: "I have no regrets about my imprisonment except for the time I was separated from my family.

"However, we were not on our own.

"It is believed that around 2,000 men and women were interned during its four and a half years of operation.

"I consider my time in the Prison Ship Maidstone, in Belfast prison and in Long Kesh to have been in the company of many remarkable, resilient and inspiring people.

"Internment like all coercive measures failed.

"There is an onus on the British government to identify and inform other internees whose Internment may also have been unlawful."

Mr Adams also thanked his legal team and the Pat Finucane Centre, which uncovered communications from July 1974 in October 2009.

On this, Mr Adams said: "The then Director of Public Prosecutions had provided a memorandum to the British Attorney-General that 'I (and other detainees) held under orders which have not been signed by the Secretary of State himself may be unlawfully detained.'

"This was prior to the institution of proceedings against me in March 1975 in respect of the December 1973 incident.

"Subsequently, I understand that on July 17th 1974 this issue was discussed by the British Attorney-General with the British Prime Minister Harold Wilson, so the knowledge of my unlawful detention was known at the most senior level of the British system."

He added: "Of course internment, later described as detention by the British, was never lawful.

"In fact it set aside the normal principles of law and was based on a blunt and brutal piece of coercive legislation."


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