Papers name Kelly in Maze shooting

Published Friday, 27 December 2013
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A newly-released state document has suggested that Gerry Kelly was the IRA prisoner who shot a warder during the Maze jailbreak 30 years ago.

Papers name Kelly in Maze shooting
Gerry Kelly spoke to UTV about the incident earlier this year. (© UTV)

Mr Kelly was one of 38 republican prisoners who escaped the high security facility on 25 September 1983 - the biggest mass breakout in British penal history.

Prison Officer John Adams was shot and wounded by a gunman in the control room before the inmates made their getaway from the H Blocks in a prison food van.

Gerry Kelly, now a Sinn Féin MLA for North Belfast, was charged with firing the shot but was found not guilty.

However a government file from 1983, newly released under the 30 year rule, has named him as the man responsible for the shooting of the prison officer.

Historian Eamon Phoenix said: "The 1983 IRA prison escape dominates the files with a blow-by-blow account of that Sunday in September.

"The main focus of the file is on the role of Gerry Kelly and the files state that prisoner 58 Kelly, as they put it, was responsible for the serious wounding of prison guard Adams.

"It says that prisoner Kelly was seen in the control room of H7 when the escape suddenly erupted wielding a gun so that emerges in these files.

"They are also quite critical of why so many IRA prisoners were allowed to mill around in a central area on a Sunday afternoon and also why a prison food van, which was used as the escape vehicle, was not checked as it passed through various internal gates."

Gerry Kelly spoke to UTV about the incident earlier this year as he released his book The Escape giving his version of events - but he did not reveal who fired the gun.

"I chose not to say anything more about it," Mr Kelly said.

"I accept that there was a number of people in the circle and clearly one of the prisoners shot the prison officer. I was charged with it and found not guilty and that is where I leave it."

Thousands of previously confidential papers from 1983 and 1984 are being released by the Public Records Office part of the 30-year rule. They will be available on the PRONI website.

© UTV News
Comments Comments
50 Comments
desdodes in lower ormo wrote (108 days ago):
@ steve in "Beal Feirste". I presume that you think I am a S/F supporter. I have suffered at the hands of the IRA, I have also been targeted by the UDA, UVF, RUC and the British Army. My point is he was found innocent of this actual crime. If the government had this evidence, I think they would have produced it in court. Especially in a Diploc court, like the one he was tried in.
Linda in NI wrote (110 days ago):
Will the release of future government papers be able to tell us who committed terrorists crimes? Gerry Kelly who recently applauded 'dissidents' in Castlederg and he's never been charged! Yes this man is untouchable, perhaps the PSNI can tell us why or maybe to be on the safe side you won't even print this - only time will tell
newtownabbey in newtownabbey wrote (115 days ago):
Northern Ireland only country in the world to let dingbats make stormount need to employ proper educated people who actually have a clue ??
lynn in lisburn wrote (116 days ago):
first time ever leaving a comment on here, I watched a U tube documentary about the maze escape in which mr kelly and other ira inmates spoke about that day and if you watch it truth will be revealed. I know people with comment negatively on this but I dont really care. happy new year to everyone.
pip in belfast wrote (116 days ago):
@mark yes because the irish government or authority's ie garda etc never funded or colluded with terrorist's to kill innocent's over the year's just the brit's is that what your saying?
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Twenty years ago there was something said but not really heard.
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