Anger as Kelly tweet marks Maze escape (UTV)

Sinn Féin’s Gerry Kelly has been accused of “glorifying terrorism” after tweeting to mark the 30th anniversary of the Maze prison break.

The North Belfast MLA, who was one of the 38 republican prisoners who escaped from the high-security jail in 1983, posted on Wednesday to wish those involved a “happy birthday”.

Mr Kelly said: “La Breithe shoa daoibh. Happy 30th anniversary of the Great Escape 1983 from Long Kesh H Blocks to all those involved.”

One prison officer died of heart attack as a result of being stabbed by an inmate while another was seriously injured during the mass escape from the prison outside Lisburn on 25 September 1983 – the biggest in British penal history.

Gerry Kelly, who had been jailed for his role in the 1973 bombing of the Old Bailey, shot a warder in the head – who survived the attack – as the prisoners fled.

Fermanagh & South Tyrone UUP member Tom Elliott condemned the Twitter comments.

He tweeted: “Disgraceful comment by Gerry Kelly re. those involved in 1983 Maze escape – he shot a prison officer in the head.”

Alliance MLA Stewart Dickson accused Mr Kelly of attempting to “glorify terrorism”.

He said: “I am completely astounded that a man who claims to be committed to moving Northern Ireland forward, who is a prominent member of the Sinn Fein Haass delegation, could actively praise and commemorate those involved in the violent Maze prison break.

“This comment made via Twitter is both shameful and sickening and a blatant attempt to glorify terrorist activities of the past. Gerry Kelly should remove the offensive tweet immediately and apologise to the many he has offended.”

Mr Kelly is currently under investigation over a speech he gave at a republican commemoration in Castlederg, Co Tyrone, last month.


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