(SOLD): Demand Their Release. These Men were Tortured and Framed.

(No place): IRSP, no date (c.1977). Poster. Rare poster issued by the recently formed Irish Republican Socialist Party for the release of Osgur Breatnach and Brian McNally who were convicted for the The Sallins Train robbery. The robbery occurred on 31 March 1976 when the Cork to Dublin mail train was robbed near Sallins in County Kildare, Ireland. Approximately £200,000 was stolen. Five members of the Irish Republican Socialist Party, Osgur Breatnach, Nicky Kelly, Brian McNally, Mick Plunkett and John Fitzpatrick, were arrested in connection with the robbery. After the failure of the authorities to produce a “book of evidence” against them, the four were released but were immediately re-arrested. During interrogation in Garda Síochána custody, all except Plunkett signed alleged confessions, presenting with extensive bruising and injuries they claimed were inflicted by members of the Gardaí. While awaiting trial, Fitzpatrick jumped bail and left the country. The trial of McNally, Kelly and Breatnach in the Special Criminal Court became the longest-running trial in Irish criminal history, at 65 days, before it collapsed due to the death of one of the three judges, Judge John O’Connor of the Circuit Court. Medical evidence of beatings was presented to the court, both during the initial trial and the second trial. The court rejected this evidence, finding that the beatings had been self-inflicted or inflicted by the co-accused. Anticipating a conviction, Kelly fled before the conclusion of the second trial. The three were found guilty, solely on the basis of their confessions, and sentenced to between nine and 12 years’ prison (Kelly was sentenced in absentia). In May 1980, the Court of Criminal Appeal quashed the convictions of Osgur Breatnach and Brian McNally. In the same month, the IRA claimed responsibility for the theft. An important poster from a black period in Irish law enforcement and judicial history, one that severely damaged the reputation of An Garda Síochána (infamously known as ‘the Heavy Gang’). An investigation by Amnesty International, which probed 28 cases between April 1976 and May 1977, concluded that people had been ill-treated while in police custody. The abuses ranged from pushing and shoving to severe beatings, and food and water deprivation. The poster measuring approx. 64cmby 45cm is in good condition, light wear to edges, ink number to verso.


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