Solicitor at 1970 Dublin arms trial praises integrity of army officer

Posted By: February 06, 2014

News Letter ( Belfast). Thursday, February 6, 2014            l

The solicitor who defended an Irish army intelligence officer from charges of
importing arms for the IRA has spoken out about the integrity of his client.

Frank Fitzpatrick was the solicitor for Capt James Kelly, who was charged with
treason in the 1970 arms trial in Dublin.

The plot to import arms caused a political scandal at the time but the Irish state
blamed it on a rogue element. Four men went to trial, including a minister, Charles
Haughey, and Capt Kelly.

He claimed he was importing arms with official consent, but this was denied by the
Irish state.

“Because of tension north and south you would think very carefully before agreeing,
but I did agree to meet him [Kelly],” Mr Fitzpatrick told The Detail, a news

“Very clearly he was a person who was telling the truth.”

The Irish state said it knew nothing of the arms plot.

And when the case went to court, its key witness was to be Capt Kelly’s senior
officer, the head of Irish army intelligence, Col Michael Hefferon.

But Mr Fitzpatrick has now revealed for the first time on camera how Col Hefferon
decided to turn the trial on its head.

“At the first trial on the first morning of the court, someone came to me and said,
‘Col Hefferon – Capt Kelly’s commander – wants to meet his [Kelly’s] solicitor’.