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While Justice Slept: The True Story of Nicky Kelly and the Sallins Train Robbery

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While Justice Slept: The True Story of Nicky Kelly and the Sallins Train Robbery
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The US had Abu Ghraib; Britain had the Birmingham Six and the Guildford Four; Ireland had Nicky Kelly. A fascinating account of a miscarriage of justice.
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NOW I, MARY ROBINSON, President of Ireland, do hereby, on the advice of the Government, pardon the said Edward Noel Kelly in respect of the said convictions and wholly remit the said punishments of twelve years penal servitude to which the said Edward Noel Kelly was sentenced as aforesaid to the intent that he shall henceforth stand released and discharged from all penalties, forfeitures and disqualifications incident to or consequent on the said convictions, as if he had not been charged or convicted.

It was one of the most notorious miscarriages of justice in the history of this State yet there has never been an inquiry into how an innocent man signed a confession to one of the biggest mail train robberies in Ireland and was kept in jail by the Courts despite exhausting the appellate jurisdiction, as a chief justice put it. Yet, though in a 1992 presidential pardon Nicky Kelly was described as being as innocent as though never charged in relation to the 1978 Sallins mail train robbery, the Gardas conduct of its investigation in the case has never been explained nor has that of a judiciary which sentenced him to 12 years penal servitude and kept in jail, despite appeal after appeal, until there was political intervention. Nicky Kelly was failed at every turn by the justice agencies of this State. In an age when the most powerful democracy in the world has shown scant regard for basic justice rights, it is timely to ask where are the mechanisms in Ireland to prevent a possible repeat of the Nicky Kelly case.

In While Justice Slept Irish Times journalist Patsy McGarry talks to those who actually took part in the mail train robbery; gives an inside account by Nicky Kelly of what took place after his arrest, including his time on the run in Europe, Canada, the US; relates his return to Ireland and to jail, his prolonged hunger strike and the campaign which led to his release, his eventual pardon and compensation by the State; describes Nicky's own international campaign on behalf of the Guildford 4 and Birmingham 6; and raises the unanswered questions as to how it all could have happened.

In While Justice Slept, 30 years later, the full story of this miscarriage of justice can finally be told. This is a fascinating look at what can happen when a democratic state and some of its most important institutions its Government, its judiciary, its intelligence services/police panic before a perceived threat and then fail in upholding basic principles of democratic society. Its a story that still resonates today.

About the Author

Patsy McGarry is Religious Affairs Correspondent for The Irish Times

Additional Information

Additional Information

Author McGarry, Patsy
Editor No
Print Format Paperback
ISBN-10 1-905785-04-6
ISBN-13 978-1905785049
Illustrations No
Date of Publication October 2006
Number of Pages 250

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