Republicans ‘silencing’ Colombia 3 author

THE republican movement was last night accused of “silencing” Colombia Three member James Monaghan after he withdrew co-operation from the publicity campaign for his new book.

It is alleged that senior figures within Sinn Féin and the IRA did not want Mr Monaghan taking questions on TV or radio about the controversial matters covered by the book.

Mr Monaghan himself said last night that, while he had not been ordered to refrain from giving broadcast interviews, he had discussed the issue with Sinn Féin and agreed it was better not to go on TV or radio.

“I’d been talking with Sinn Féin and the idea was... you could be, as it were, ambushed on a programme where you find yourself — although you’re right, if you’re against some very articulate and hostile people, then you can end up being made a fool of.”

Mr Monaghan was one of the three men arrested in Colombia in 2001 on charges of providing explosives training to that country’s Marxist rebel group FARC.

His book, Colombia Jail Journal, was launched at Sinn Féin’s bookstore in Parnell Street, Dublin, last night.

But its launch was overshadowed by controversy after the book’s publisher, Brandon, said the republican movement had ordered Monaghan not to participate in broadcast interviews.

“We undertook publication of this book in good faith and under the terms of a contract which, among other things, committed the author to co-operate with our promotional efforts,” said Brandon.

“However, to our complete surprise, the author has withdrawn from any co-operation with broadcast media, calling a halt in particular to discussions about his proposed appearance on the Late Late Show. He has done so on the orders of the republican movement.”

Asked why the republican movement may have wanted to silence Mr Monaghan, Steve McDonagh of Brandon said it may have been because Mr Monaghan discussed in the book the time he spent with FARC.

Mr Monaghan maintains in the book he was in Colombia to study a ceasefire which was in operation at the time.

The row is all the stranger considering Brandon has previously published a number of Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams’s books. Mr Adams is in the middle of a promotional campaign for his latest Brandon-published book, An Irish Eye.

Mr Monaghan, Niall Connolly and Martin McCauley were found guilty of travelling on false passports but initially acquitted of the bomb-training charges.

However, a higher court later overturned the acquittals and sentenced the men to 17 years in prison. But by that time, they had jumped bail and fled Colombia.

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