Northern Ireland news

Gerry Adams loses legal bid to overturn historic convictions for Long Kesh escape

Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams at Parliament Buildings, Stormont, last week

Gerry Adams has failed in a court bid to overturn two historic convictions.

The former Sinn Féin president had challenged the legality of two convictions received in 1975 relating to escape bids while he was detained without trial at Long Kesh during the early 1970s.

His lawyers argued at the Court of Appeal in Belfast that his imprisonment was unlawful because of flaws in the detention process.

The case hinged on a complex technicality that Mr Adams's internment was not legal because the order to hold him had not been considered by the then Secretary of State.

Mr Adams's legal team claimed his imprisonment was unlawful because an interim custody order was signed by a junior minister at the Northern Ireland Office and not the Secretary of State.

They contested that the 1972 Detention of Terrorists Order required senior level authorisation.

Three Court of Appeal judges rejected that argument on Wednesday.

"The Court of Appeal was satisfied that the ICO (Interim Custody Order) was valid having been made by the Minister on behalf of the Secretary of State," read the judgment.

"The court was accordingly satisfied that the appellant's convictions are safe and dismissed the appeal."

The Louth TD was first detained in March 1972, but was released in June that year to take part in secret talks in London.

He was rearrested in July 1973 at a Belfast house and interned at Long Kesh internment camp which became the Maze Prison.

Mr Adams had challenged subsequent convictions handed down by two separate Diplock Court trials - cases tried by a single judge sitting without a jury - relating to two attempts to escape from internment.

In a statement following the ruling Mr Adams spoke of his disappointment and said he would discuss the possibility of appealing Court of Appeal decision.

“I am disappointed, though not entirely surprised," he said.

“I will now discuss with my legal advisers what options, including an appeal, are open to me.”

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