Nesbitt slammed over 'Colombia Three' comments

A war of words has flared between the UUP and the Bring Them Home Campaign after five members of the Oireachtas announced their intention to attend the trial of the 'Colombia Three' in Bogota.

The campaign is to seek legal advice after senior Ulster Unionist Dermot Nesbitt labelled the Irish delegation as a "Sinn Fein rescue mission".

Senator Paul Bradford (Fine Gael), TD John Curran (Fianna Fáil), TD Sean Crowe (Sinn Fein), TD Finian McGrath (Independent), and Senator Mary White (Fianna Fail) are set to join the second stage of the trial on November 28.

The UUP assembly member, and former Stormont minister, said: "The Irish delegation is sponsored and paid for by the Bring Them Home Campaign that many regard as a Sinn Fein front organisation.

"This is not a political trial and I am disturbed that some members of the Dail are seeking to make it so – particularly at a time when the actions of the republican movement have caused the collapse of the devolved institutions in Northern Ireland and have frustrated the will of the people of this island, north and south. I am sure many of their constituents must be wondering if these politicians do not have more pressing matters to attend to on the home front.

"For Irish politicians to engage in a Sinn Fein rescue mission raises questions in the Unionist community about the impartiality of certain politicians in the Republic of Ireland. They seem to have thrown the spirit of the Belfast Agreement out of the window."

He added: "I believe the leaders of Fianna Fail and Fine Gael should follow the example set by the Irish Labour Party and start a 'Keep Them Home' campaign."

The campaign's spokeswoman, Catriona Ruane, described Mr Nesbitt's remarks as "deeply prejudicial to the three Irish citizens in Colombia".

Ms Ruane said: "This is an outrageous attempt to prejudice the men's trial and we are taking legal advice as to whether or not the statement is actionable."

Jim Monaghan, Martin McCauley and Niall Connolly have been held by Colombian authorities since August 11 2001 for allegedly helping to train anti-government Farc terrorists.


Related Northern Ireland News Stories
Click here for the latest headlines.

15 February 2019
NI Secretary To Hold Talks With Stormont Parties
The Secretary of State is due to hold talks at Stormont in an effort to break the political deadlock. Karen Bradley will meet the five main political parties this afternoon, Friday 15 February. It is understood she is keen to assess the appetite among representatives for fresh negotiations aimed at restoring devolution.
12 February 2019
Alliance Call For Parliament To Test People's Vote On Brexit
An Alliance MLA has accused Westminster of wasting time as the Brexit deadline approaches, and called for Parliament to address the possibility of a People's Vote.
28 January 2019
SDLP: Backstop 'Vital' For Border Communities
The SDLP has stressed the importance of retaining the backstop in the much-disputed Brexit deal due to the "sensitivities and complexities of our peace process".
13 February 2019
Political Deadlock To Blame For A5 Development Setback- SDLP
An SDLP MLA has blamed the political impasse at Stormont for the Irish Government's decision to redirect €27 million that had been earmarked for a huge cross-border road project. Ministers in the Republic had allocated the money to the long-awaited upgrade of the A5 road which connects Dublin and L'derry, in a project jointly funded by Stormont.
05 December 2007
UDR Care Fund Launched
A care service has been launched to help ex UDR and Royal Irish (Home Service) soldiers and their families deal with the legacy of the troubles. The UDR & R Irish (HS) Aftercare Service fulfils a pledge by Government that a welfare organisation would be set up as part of an overall resettlement package.