KELLY JUSTICE CAMPAIGN
Mourners salute wife of arms trial captain
Tuesday February 17 2009
THE funeral Mass of the wife of a leading figure in the arms trial
that rocked the nation took place yesterday -- with the chief
celebrant criticising the couple's "victimisation" by the government
over a period of 30 years.
Sheila Kelly was...
read more here...
The Irish American Unity
Conference adopts a resolution calling for "the
Taoiseach to completely clear the name of Captain Kelly..." [Click
Oration delivered on July 16th 2006 by Harry
Boland at the graveside of Capt. James J. Kelly in Glasnevin
Cemetery, Dublin, on the Third Anniversary of his death.
"I was very surprised but greatly honoured when
Sheila asked me if I would give a short talk at this, the 3rd
Commemoration of Jim Kelly's death and, knowing how Sheila and family
and friends have been so loyal and committed to clearing Jim's name for
the honourable and loyal person he so definitely was, I said I would do
my bit. When I asked what I should say, Sheila said "what is in your
heart", so that is what I'll endeavour to do.
I had no knowledge of Jim's existence until he was catapulted into the
national limelight with the scandalous and most unfair "Arms Trial". I
knew some of the others accused – C.J. Haughey was in class with me in
Joeys and in UCD and we studied for accountancy and set up business
together. I first met Neil Blaney at the famous By-Election when he was
first elected to replace his late father in Dail Eireann and I
accompanied my father to Dun na nGall (Donegal) and said a few words at
an "after Mass Meeting". Albert Luyux was a respected neighbour of mine
in Sutton. John Kelly I got to know after the Trial, when my friend
Gerry Jones was trying to get him started again, and when I was handling
a small fund which Gerry Jones and Des McGreevy had set up to assist
deserving Republican relatives. Distribution was made through John and
the late Independent Republican M.P., Paddy Kennedy.
That left Jim Kelly whose whole performance in the Court I followed-what
was reported in the newspapers. After one particular disgraceful episode
by the then Minister for Defence, my brother, Kevin, who had been
Minister for Defence when first elected to Dail Eireann was leaving the
Court, which he had attended every day, the former Commander-in-Chief,
General McEoin, turned to him and said, "wasn't that nauseating". When I
read the detailed account Jim recorded, the whole dreadful plot which
was clearly designed to shaft Haughey and Blaney – for different reasons
I believe – it became clear to me and the career and good name of a mere
lowly Captain was completely disregarded-with tampered evidence – in
Colonel Hefferon's case, and as papers since made public, prove that not
only politicians but also Civil Servants contributed to the disgraceful
performance into which Jim Kelly was wrongly and carelessly drawn.
I was reared in the environment of that wonderful, if comparatively
small group of patriotic people who tackled the "Greatest Empire" the
world had ever known, who thought and think of themselves as the Master
Race, and they almost succeeded in driving them from our small country.
They were truly "Politicians by Accident" and even in the sad state of
affairs that they inherited, I was always satisfied that their
objectives and love for Ireland was sacrosanct.
Then to have to realise that some who succeeded this group could be so
self-centred as to concoct a false charge – I found very hard to
believe. Even when our Courts of Justice found those wrongly accused
people "Not Guilty" we had the unedifying and disgraceful accusation by
a Senior Politician that the jury had been "got at". Forcing one
unidentified member of that Jury to break silence to deny categorically
that any pressure has been put on the Jury-apart of course from the
clear evidence produced to it in Court.
Having got to know Jim I never had any doubt regarding the complete
honesty of what he said and did. Indeed I had the great pleasure last
September to attend the commissioning of my grandson, Aonghus, in the
Irish Navy in Haulbowline when I heard for the first time in detail the
Oath sworn on these occasions and this confirmed my strongly held
opinion that Jim's behaviour through all that awful episode was
positively faithful to that same oath that he had sworn when he was
I am pleased that even though it came after Jim's death, that our
present Taoiseach publicly stated he was satisfied that Jim had always
acted under orders. I feel the full Government apology was not given for
political reasons but I sincerely hope that the official Government
acknowledgement of this will be issued without further delay,
particularly now, based on even further proof, that Sheila, her family
and supporters have since unearthed.
Guím suaimhneas síoraí agus rath Dé ar anam dílis Jim."
The following is an address delivered by Justin
Kelly, the son of the late Capt. James J. Kelly, to the 2006 AOH
National Convention, held in Boston, in July. Press reports indicate
the event was attended by an estimated 1,400 delegates from across
the United States.
Text sent to Civil Rights Veterans -
"I'd like to thank your National President, Mr. Ned
McGinley for giving me the opportunity to speak to you today about the
"Justice for Captain Kelly Campaign".
My father, Captain Kelly, was an Irish army officer who was charged with
illegally importing arms to Ireland, in what came to be known as the
arms trial in 1970. At the time, it was the longest running trial in the
history of the Irish state and received massive attention due to the
fact that among the defendants were two leading government ministers,
Neil Blaney and future Taoiseach, Charles Haughey.
To understand the complexities of the case, it is necessary to view the
historical context. In the late nineteen sixties, the Six Counties that
comprise Northern Ireland, were on the verge of civil war. Spurred on by
civil rights protests in the United States, the catholic minority in the
north began marching for equality. The response from their Protestant
neighbours was both swift and brutal and many were forced to flee their
homes under threat of death. The partisan police force, were, at best,
ineffective and volunteer Catholic Defense Associations were organized
to defend nationalist areas.
As the situation deteriorated, the southern Irish government looked on
nervously fearing that things could spill over the border. Jack Lynch,
the Taoiseach, intimated that his government would not, in his own
words, "stand idly by" while our northern brethren were under siege. It
was around this time, that my father, a twenty year army intelligence
veteran was sent north to assess the wants and needs of those in the
frontline. He met with representatives of the Catholic Defense
Association and the answer was clear. They wanted guns with which to
protect themselves in the event of a doomsday situation.
He reported his findings to his superior officer, Col Michael Hefferon,
who in turn reported to his commander, Minister for Defense, Jim
According to an army directive of the time, written by a Col Adams:
"At 16.30 hrs. on Friday, 6 Feb 1970 the
Minister for Defense informed the chief of staff and the then
Director of intelligence that the government at a cabinet meeting on
that date had instructed the minister to order the chief of staff to
prepare and train the army for incursions into Northern Ireland if
and when such a cause became necessary, and to have respirators and
arms and ammunition made ready in the event that it would be
necessary for the minority to protect themselves. The minister
explained that the Taoiseach and other ministers had met delegations
from the North. At these meetings urgent demands were made for
respirators, weapons and ammunition, the provision of which the
government agreed as and when necessary"
In light of this directive, and under orders from
his superiors my father was sent to the continent to negotiate a secret
arms deal using funds that had been supplied by the government. The arms
never arrived. In May, my father was arrested at our suburban home and
charged with a conspiracy to illegally import arms. At first, he assumed
there was a misunderstanding and went willingly with his captors. It was
only when his belt and his shoelaces were removed and he was thrown in a
cell that he began to realize that treachery was afoot. He demanded, and
eventually received, an audience with both the Taoiseach and the
Minister of Defense. The Taoiseach, as was his way, indicated that
things were out of his hands. More insidiously, his commander, the
Minister for Defense said something along the lines of "you're in the
hot seat now, Jim".
At the ensuing trial, my father, despite the best efforts of the
government was found not guilty. This was in no way thanks to the
testimony of the Minister of Defense, Jim Gibbons, who undoubtedly
committed perjury by denying all knowledge of the affair. In his
testimony, the chief of intelligence, Col. Hefferon, made it clear that
Gibbons was kept informed of all aspects of the operation. This was the
key to the trial. If the Minister of Defense, Jim Gibbons, had ordered
the importation, then no crime had been committed. However, Col.
Hefferon's statement was altered to omit any reference to the Minister
under the direction of then Minister for Justice, Desmond O'Malley. This
fact only came to light 30 years later when the state papers became
available to the public.
Why was my father conspired against by the Irish government. Although a
number of theories abound, I really cannot definitively answer that
question other than to say that due to an about face of government
policy he became expendable. What I do know was that my father's
reputation was left in tatters. A whispering campaign orchestrated by
influential politicians indicated that the jury had somehow been got at
and that the not guilty verdict was a perversion of justice. As a child
our house was under constant surveillance by the gardai's special branch
and I thought everyone's telephone was tapped. I saw nothing unusual in
the fact that our car was shadowed by unmarked police cruisers on our
weekly trips to the market for groceries. My family received anonymous
death threats through the mail, one from a notorious Loyalist
Of all the hardships suffered by my father, I believe the one that upset
him most was the way in which his army career was taken away. He'd
served honorably for twenty years; a career soldier who'd served three
years in the middle east as part of a United Nations peacekeeping force
and was held in the highest regard by all who served with him. That he
was hung out to dry by the very people he'd sworn to serve was the
We hear a lot of talk these days about protecting our troops. Whatever
one feels about war in Iraq or elsewhere, everyone agrees that it is
imperative that we support the troops who have given so much. I'm
ashamed to say my government, the Irish government, abandoned a proud
My father fought for 30 years for the state apology that he deserved. He
died penniless, in 2003, still waiting.
Thanks so much for your time. Go raibh maith agat agus slan libh."
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KELLY JUSTICE CAMPAIGN