28/07/2005

Shankill bomber release angers unionists

Shankill bomber Sean Kelly has been released "on the expectation of a forthcoming IRA statement," the Government has said.

Mr Kelly's early release licence was originally suspended by Northern Ireland Secretary of State Peter Hain last month after security information indicated he had become "re-involved in terrorism".

However, Sinn Fein's Gerry Kelly said Sean Kelly "should never have been arrested in the first place."

Speaking to the media as he met Mr Kelly on release from jail on Wednesday, the Sinn Fein MLA said: “It would be my wish that the Sentence Review Commission resolve this situation as a matter of urgency and allow Sean and his family to get on with their lives."

Ulster Unionist leader Sir Reg Empey hit out at the move. “I can think of nothing more the Government can do to undermine the remaining confidence within unionism in what is about to unfold," the East Belfast MLA said.

"It will be seen as a cynical manipulation, not only of the legal process, but the political process. It proves that those who have access to the threat of force still have primacy over the democrats.''

Sean Kelly originally received a life sentence for killing nine civilians in the bombing of a fish shop on Belfast`s Shankill Road in 1993 in which his accomplice, Thomas Begley, also died.

However, he was released in 2000 as part of the early release scheme for prisoners under the Good Friday Agreement.

(MB/SP)

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