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Taoiseach says Gerry Kelly's celebration of prison escape does not advance unity

Sinn Féin policing spokesman Gerry Kelly
Michael McHugh, PA

Gerry Kelly’s celebration of the death of a prison officer does not advance the cause of Irish unity, the Taoiseach said.

Mr Kelly, now a Sinn Féin assembly member, was one of 38 IRA inmates who escaped from the Maze in 1983.

Prison officer James Ferris died of a heart attack after being stabbed while attempting to stop the breakout.

Micheál Martin accused Sinn Féin of pursuing the issue of a shared island unit in his department for the purpose solely of winning more votes.

“When your colleague Gerry Kelly celebrates the prison escape which resulted in the murder of a prison officer, is that OK?

“Do you think that advances the cause of Irish unity?

“Of course it does not.”

North Belfast assembly member Mr Kelly described the breakout as “one of Big Bob’s best ops”, referring to senior republican Bobby Storey, adding: “I had the privilege of the front passenger seat.

“Well someone had to check we were taking the right route out!!”.

Mr Martin told the Dail that Sinn Féin’s interest in the new shared island unit in the Taoiseach’s department was about winning more votes.

“It is much more profound and complex than that.

“The Good Friday Agreement, in my view, is an excellent document.

“It is about time a lot of people worked to the agreement.”

Gerry Kelly as a prisoner during the 1980s

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