Nolan gives Sheehan rough ride over ‘context’ excuse

Sinn Fein's 'Pat Sheehan. Pic: Press Eye
Sinn Fein's 'Pat Sheehan. Pic: Press Eye

Sinn Fein West Belfast Assembly candidate Pat Sheehan has been accused of hypocrisy for rejecting “context” for alleged waterboarding by British soldiers in the 1970s – while making the same to excuse to deflect from his own career as an IRA bomber.

Speaking after a Channel 4 programme detailing claims of waterboarding by the Paras in Belfast in the 1970s, Mr Sheehan said: “No party to the conflict should be above the law and the British government needs to end the cover ups and delays which have halted the implementation of the legacy mechanisms agreed in the Stormont House talks.”

But BBC presenter Stephen Nolan yesterday challenged him: “You were quite well armed yourself Pat Sheehan – you are the man that tried to bomb a cash and carry.”

He replied: “Absolutely – I have never denied that. I took up arms against the British forces here in Ireland.”

Mocked by DUP MP Gregory Campbell for targeting a cash and carry, Mr Sheehan insisted it was part of the IRA’s “economic campaign”.

By the age of 19, Mr Sheehan was jailed for bombing a cash and carry. Released in 1987, he was then given 24 years for leaving a bomb at a Belfast security checkpoint.

Mr Nolan further challenged him: “The IRA would have shot people in the legs, sometimes in the head, they would have strapped bombs around people. What kind of torture is that?”

Mr Sheehan replied: “And that is all well documented. The difference is Stephen that the IRA has left the stage.” However the British Army is “still torturing people” he added.

Mr Campbell said actions by the Paras in the 1970s had to be understood in the context as “a reaction” to vicious terrorism – not the cause of it.

But Mr Sheehan insisted that “the context doesn’t matter – torture is wrong full stop”.

However, Mr Nolan challenged him that “in the same breath you justify your bombing campaign by quoting context. Is that not hypocritical?”

Mr Sheehan replied: “Stephen you were the one who said the British forces were here to protect people.” It could not be the case that they were here to protect people and to torture them, he added.