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Sinn Féin TD Dessie Ellis rejects allegations of involvement in 50 IRA murders

A newly-released British document claims that Ellis was involved in the murder of 50 people by the IRA in the north and south during the Troubles but he has rejected these claims.

Dessie Ellis was elected to the Dáil last year
Dessie Ellis was elected to the Dáil last year
Image: Sam Boal/Photocall Ireland

SINN FÉIN TD Dessie Ellis has rejected new claims that he was involved in 50 murders carried out by the IRA during the Troubles as has been alleged in newly-released documents today.

The Irish Independent, citing papers released under the 30-year rule, reports that Dublin North-West deputy Ellis was linked to 50 murders during the Troubles by British diplomats in 1982.

The paper reports that a communication from the British embassy in Washington said that Ellis was arrested in Dublin in May 1981 for possession of electronic remote-controlled devices and was linked by “forensic evidence to some 50 murders” in the north and the south of Ireland.

Sinn Féin has released a strongly-worded statement addressing what it calls an “Indo smear”.

The party says it does not attach “any value” to the claims made in the documents which it said emanated from “the British secret services, who were responsible for countless murders in Ireland during the course of the conflict”.

“These are the same faceless securocrats who murdered Pat Finucane,” the statement said, referring the Belfast solicitor who was murdered in 1989 following collusion by the British state.

This is not the first time such unsubstantiated allegations have been made and Dessie Ellis rejects them as he has repeatedly done.

Following a prolonged hunger strike in the 1990s to protest his extradition to Britain, Dessie successfully beat these trumped up charges in court.

Dessie Ellis has made no secret of his involvement in the republican struggle over many decades, including within the ranks of the IRA. Dessie has also been an important persuader for the Peace Process for many years.

Ellis, who was sentenced to 10 years in prison on explosive charges in the 80s, has acknowledged that he was involved in the IRA “at the highest levels” during the Troubles in a recently published book Finglas: A People’s Portrait.

Contacted by TheJournal.ie today Ellis, 60, said he had nothing more to add to the statement released by the Sinn Féin press office: ”I’m not going into anything further.”

Ellis, a former television repairman, skipped bail after his arrest in 1981 and was later arrested in New York in February 1982. He was extradited to Ireland where he served his ten-year sentence in Portlaoise Prison.

Dessie Ellis in 1991 shortly after his release from prison (Eamonn Farrell/Photocall Ireland)

Due to be released in April 1990, Ellis was served with a warrant for his extradition to Britain where it was alleged he conspired with three other men to cause explosions in Britain between 1981 and 1983.

In October 1990 he went on hunger strike, protesting his extradition to the UK. The strike lasted 37 days during which time he lost over two stone and was barely able to walk.

He was eventually acquitted of the charges at a court in London and went on to become a politician.

A profile on his website, dessieellis.ie, makes no reference to his time as a member of the IRA or in prison in Portlaoise.

Speaking at the time of his hunger strike, he said, according to the LA Times: “Obviously I don’t want to die. I want to live . . . but I cannot accept extradition. I will die rather than be extradited to Britain.”

1982: Haughey, America and “The Troubles”

30 years ago: Anger at Irish Government over IRA bombings

Read all of TheJournal.ie’s stories on the 1982 State papers, just released>

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