The Free Dessie O'Hare Campaign

Who is Dessie O'Hare?

Dessie O'Hare is a Republican Socialist prisoner currently serving a forty-year gaol sentence in Portlaoise. He was jailed for life in 1988. Dessie has been a Republican activist since the age of sixteen, first as a member of the IRA and then as a member of the INLA.

Dessie is currently the O/C of the INLA prisoners in Portlaoise Prison. He has endorsed and fully accepted the INLA ceasefire. That statement said among other things:

"That the conditions for armed struggle do not exist".

"We acknowledge and admit faults and grievous errors in our prosecution of the war".

"Innocent people were killed and injured and at times our actions as a liberation army fell far short of what they should have been. For this we as Republicans, as Socialists and as Revolutionaries do offer a sincere, heartfelt and genuine apology".

The onus is now on all political parties, governments and observers to ensure that the democratic wishes of the Irish people are upheld.

"The will of the Irish people is clear. It is now time to silence the guns".

Organisations which are on ceasefire are entitled to the early release of its members under the Good Friday Agreement, which says that all political prisoners convicted of offences committed before April 1998 should be released.

Dessie O'Hare demands his right to release under the Good Friday Agreement.

The Irish government has refused to free him in contravention of the Good Friday Agreement even though Dessie was a leader of the INLA at the time of the kidnap. Indeed the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform, Mr John O'Donoghue, has already said, "He is a qualifying prisoner". The GFA in its entirety includes the early release of 'qualifying prisoners' meaning those prisoners whose organisations are 'maintaining a complete and unequivocal cease-fire'. Dessie O'Hare is such a prisoner who has been denied the benefits of the early release scheme as laid down in Annex B, Section 2 of the Agreement which the Irish electorate voted for.

Dessie has been demonised by the media and by certain politicians who labelled him the "Border Fox". He has been seen by experts at the request of the Irish Government in an attempt to keep him imprisoned on the grounds of his mental state. They could find no such grounds for his continuing incarceration but this was an attempt to emulate the tactics of Stalinist USSR in labelling opponents of that regime 'mad'.

Dessie's "crime", if 'crime' it was, was to be an active Republican.

His co-accused, Edward Hogan and Fergal Toal, have already been released under the Agreement even though they were convicted of the same offence.

Dessie is being victimised, discriminated against and demonised by the state authorities. And yet his activities were no different from those of hundreds of others released under the GFA.

Desmond O'Hare was born on 26 October 1956 and comes from a strongly Republican family. Dessie's Grandmother did six months in Holloway Gaol for "keeping Republicans". His father and six of his uncles were interned between 1940 and 1944. One uncle died while interned on the Isle of Mann.

Dessie became active in the Republican struggle from the age of 16 and one of his Officer Commanders in the IRA was John Francis Green, later assassinated by Captain Nairac.

Dessie O'Hare is no different from hundreds if not thousands of Republicans. He played his part in the struggle. It is now time he was released.

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Dear Friend,

We are asking you to consider the case of Dessie O'Hare and to lend your voice to the campaign to free him.

We ask you to consider any of the following courses of action. Invite a speaker from the "Release Dessie O'Hare Campaign" to speak to your group, circulate and sign the enclosed petition, write to the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform, An Taoiseach, your local TDs or MLAs or MPs, and or take part in any protests, meetings pickets, etc. that may be organised near you.

The case of Dessie raises issues over and above either the personality or deeds of Dessie O'Hare. Fundamentally it goes to the heart of the Good Friday Agreement. We in this campaign have been sceptical about that Agreement but we say now implement not just the spirit but also the letter of the GFA. Release Dessie O'Hare now!!!

Yours sincerely,

John Murtagh
Organising Secretary
Release Dessie O'Hare Campaign

You can contact us at:
Release Dessie O'Hare Campaign
392 Falls Road, Belfast, BT48 6DH, Ireland
Tel: 028 90 321024
Fax: 028 90 330786

Or:

Release Dessie O'Hare Campaign
4 Cavendish Row, Dublin 1, Ireland
Tel/Fax No: 01 8735620

Free Dessie | POWs | IRSP