A leading independent Senator has raised the situation of Seán Garland at a sitting of Seanad Éireann (the Senate / Upper
House of the Irish parliament).
Senator Joe O'Toole raised the matter during the Adjournment Debate in the Senate on February 18th and called on the
Irish Ambassador in Washington to contact the new US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, to demand that the extradition
request for Sean Garland be dropped.
Senator O'Toole was supported in this matter by a number of other senators. The following is an excerpt of the
Senator Joe O’Toole:
I ask the Cathaoirleach [Chairman] and the Leader to use their good
offices to deal with a completely different matter. This House has had many long discussions on the Good Friday Agreement
and other Northern Ireland issues. This country has a long history of people who have moved from the world of the gun to the
political world. I refer to Michael Collins and Éamon de Valera, for example. The US Government is seeking the extradition
of Seán Garland, who had a significant involvement in the drawing up of the Good Friday Agreement. He has rejected violence.
He organised the first ceasefire. Many of us defended the Government’s position that the Good Friday Agreement should
not apply to certain people, including those who killed [police officer] Jerry McCabe in Adare. We had to bite our tongues
when some of those people walked free. It seems ridiculous that the outgoing US Administration - I refer in particular to
George W. Bush and Condoleezza Rice - sought the extradition of Mr. Garland not on a charge like murder but on a trumped up
charge of possibly having some involvement in the North Korean counterfeiting of American dollars. Mr. Garland, who is 74
years of age, is suffering from cancer and diabetes. He has moved down the road to the political world. I ask the Irish ambassador
in Washington to contact the incoming US Administration, especially the new Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, to demand
that the request to extradite Seán Garland be dropped at this time.
Senator David Norris: Hear, hear. Well said.
An Cathaoirleach: That is a matter for the courts. We have to respect the separation of powers.
Senator Labhrás Ó Murchú: If one examines the position in Gaza, as has been touched on here, and the butchery
of the Palestinians, one questions when Israel will be held accountable for its war crimes. Look at Guantanamo Bay and the
replacement of the word “torture” with “rendition”. I place the case of Mr. Sean Garland against that
background. I acknowledge the separation of powers and I will speak only on the political aspect of that case, which I am
entitled to do in this House. Mr. Garland is 74 years old and he suffers from cancer and diabetes. He has been a strong supporter
of the peace process on this island. I invite Members to think about that for a moment. In that context, against the background
I have given and taking the political aspect of this case, we should speak immediately to the US ambassador and ask him to
read President Obama’s inauguration speech in which he talked about a new era of diplomacy. The Garland case is not
acceptable, correct or productive. The extradition request was signed by Condoleezza Rice, who was part of the old regime.
There is an opportunity to extend the regime of diplomacy, friendship and holding out the hand in this very small case of
Mr. Sean Garland. We should respond generously.
Senator David Norris: Well said.
Senator Donie Cassidy: Senators O’Toole and Ó Murchú, two respected and long-standing Senators,
made known to the House this morning their views on Seán Garland, a 74 year old man suffering from cancer who has been a peaceful
person who played a central role in the Good Friday Agreement. I assure the House that I will pass on the Senators’
urgent request to the Minister immediately after the Order of Business. I fully agree with the sentiments expressed by both
Senators about a new beginning under the new US President, Barack Obama, who has uplifted not alone his own country but the
people of the world. I hope the stimulus package he signed into being yesterday is the start of the upturn and becomes a ray
of hope for everyone experiencing difficulties across the world
Items in [brackets] are for clarity of issues for our international visitors to this site.
This debate is a welcome show of support for Sean Garland from within the Irish parliament. It also shows that Sean Garland
is respected across the political spectrum even by those who do not share his political philosphy. It also shows
clearly that support for Sean Garland is growing and is broad based across a range of political, trade union and community