Colombia Three - Surrender a welcome act for peace

THE decision of the Colombia Three to voluntarily give themselves up to the gardaí for questioning is a welcome twist in this long-running saga.

Controversy has raged ever since the men resurfaced here recently after absconding eight months ago from Colombia. They faced a 17-year jail sentence after an appeals court reversed their earlier acquittal on the charge of training Marxist FARC guerrillas.

Though Colombia is demanding their extradition, it is moot whether Niall Connolly, Martin McCauley and Jim Monaghan will be returned as no extradition agreement exists between the Irish and Colombian governments.

Taoiseach Bertie Ahern rightly says the question should be decided by the courts. While public opinion is divided, many people believe the men should be held to account for their activities.

Despite trenchant Government denials of any deal with the IRA to bring them back, the controversy is bound to have reverberations for the peace process.

If the Government had compromised its integrity, the consequences for the Good Friday Agreement would be grave.

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