Category: Archive

Sinn Fein: Abu-Jamal visit never planned

February 16, 2011

By Staff Reporter

By Jack Holland

Claims that a scheduled visit by a Sinn Fein party representative to a death row inmate in Pennsylvania was cancelled in order to avoid alienating President George W. Bush have been withdrawn by the woman who originally made them.

The claims appeared last week in the London Daily Telegraph, which reported that Mumia Abu-Jamal, on death row in Waynesburg, Pa., for murdering a police officer 20 years ago, was due to receive a visit from Sinn Fein member Daisy Mules. The report alleged that Mitchel McLaughlin, the party chairperson, cancelled it, as well as planned visits to death row inmates in Texas.

"The story was on a totally false premise," said Rita O’Hare, of Friends of Sinn Fein, based in Washington, D.C. "There was no cancellation because there was no visit planned."

The story surfaced when a letter from Nora Dwyer, a republican activist in Texas, to Abu-Jamal alleging that McLaughlin had cancelled the visit, was leaked to the press. In the letter, she wrote that she had had a "series of phone calls with Sinn Fein representatives. Yesterday, I finally received notice from Mitchel McLaughlin and Friends of Sinn Fein that they are withdrawing permission for Daisy to visit you as well as prisoners on Texas death row. The reason given is that Sinn Fein sees the ‘peace process’ in Ireland at a critical point. They are now concerned about the effect such a visit will have on the role the U.S. government will take in the coming months."

Dwyer said that she felt "great shame" about the alleged volte-face by Sinn Fein.

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Six days later, Dwyer issued another letter admitting that her original claims were false.

In the second letter she wrote: "There were no series of phone calls with Sinn Fein representatives regarding this visit. The only person I spoke with is Daisy Mules.

"I never spoke with Mitchel McLaughlin, nor did I speak with a representative of Friends of Sinn Fein.

"At no time did Sinn Fein withdraw their permission for Daisy Mules to visit Mumia Abu-Jamal since official visit (sic) was not requested … . I deeply regret any misunderstandings that may have arisen."

Repeated calls to Dwyer seeking clarification were not returned.

The case of Mumia Abu-Jamal has been at the center of controversy for many years. A radical journalist and black activist, Abu-Jamal claims his conviction was race-based. The courts in Pennsylvania have rejected his appeals. Currently his case is before the Federal Court of Appeals.

Said his biographer, Terry Bisson, "They’re asking the Federal government to reopen the case. It got Hurricane Carter out."

Sinn Fein’s O’Hare said she did not know why the allegations about Sinn Fein were made in the first.

"It is trying to use something that has nothing to do with us," she said. "It was Nora Dwyer’s own idea."

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