Representing Victims of Terrorism in South Armagh
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Appeasement Of Terrorists Comes Home To Roost For Dublin

The appearance of the three international terrorists known as the Colombia Three in the Republic of Ireland ought to come as no surprise to informed minds. The time and place makes perfect sense for a terrorist on the run. In terms of timing it will take a lot of action to prove to victims that this was not part of some secret side deal between the Dublin Government and Sinn Fein/IRA. Just as the shameful deal over the killers of Garda McCabe became apparent last year as the secret side deal then, so we fear a similar deal has been done around the Colombia Three. For the terrorists now is an ideal time to make good their escape as their fate can now be tied to the ongoing process of concessions sponsored by the two governments. The next main concession will be the disgusting attempt by the British government to legislate for an amnesty for the terrorists. These three international terrorists will clearly expect that they will benefit form these provisions. However as victims who stand shoulder to shoulder with the innocent men, women and children of Colombia, whose lives have been ruined by the technology the 'IRA Three' exported we say that they must return and serve their time.

The second reason place is also self-evident as the Republic of Ireland has always been a safe haven for terrorists. Just as Afghanistan under the Taliban regime was to Islamic terrorists so the Republic of Ireland was to the PIRA. The southern jurisdiction was throughout the Troubles a safe haven for terrorists. As a border community we suffered terribly at the hands of terrorists who could strike at will and flee across the border. Many gun and bomb attacks were actually carried out just inside the Irish Republic with their victims on the northern side of the border. Irish legislation and will - or the lack of both, hampered investigations and allowed the terrorists of Sinn Fein/IRA to operate at will. We have continually raised these matters with human rights groups and with both the Irish and British government, finally getting through the Cory Inquiries a limited Inquiry into one incident of collusion - the murders of Breen and Buchanan.

So historically the Republic has been a safe haven for terrorists a fact most evidenced in their shameful extradition record. Consistently throughout the troubles they refused to extradite terrorists citing that their crimes were 'political' or that there was no 'comparable offence' in the Republic. Their posturing in relation to the Colombia Three added to their legacy of harbouring terrorists and has resulted in the present crisis in the peace process. However it is a timely episode, as the issue of On the Run Terrorists being harboured in the Republic of Ireland needs to be resolved and their record exposed. Now they have a clear opportunity to decide which camp they are in the war on terrorism. Let us not forget that harbouring terrorists was one of the reasons that Afghanistan and Iraq were invaded. Could we now expect a similar proactive response from the International Coalition Against Terrorism on this matter. Indeed Mr Bush has stated clearly that any country which hides and harbours terrorists is a terrorist state. The Republic must decide now where it stands.

Now is the time for actions and having spoken to victims in Colombia over the weekend they have united with us to call for the return of these men. They must be arrested and deported now. They can be arrested for entering the Republic illegally using false passports, the onus is on the Dublin authorities to seize them now before they escape once more. Then the Interpol warrants can be served and extradition proceedings commenced. The lack of an extradition treaty with Colombia must be no excuse for inactivity. The fact that the Irish authorities did not prepare for the probable return by negotiating an extradition treaty with Colombia is a grave mistake. It is either a case of naive folly or premeditated collusion. Either way the Dublin Government must act now to demonstrate their commitment to justice and the international war on terrorism. These men are guilty of war crimes under international law and this must be the route taken to secure justice. Borders or a historically idealistic sympathy for Republican terrorists must not be used to shield these men. The technology they exported to South America has been used in countless acts of terrorism - war crimes. The matter must be resolved quickly as it has the potential to derail the present political process as Sinn Fein/IRA try to wring more humiliating concessions for their form of words. The world is watching and will judge the good faith and commitment to peace democracy and justice of each of the players. We welcome the SDLP and Dublin Opposition party's strong comments on this matter and we will be asking for a meeting with those involved.