September 8, 1997 in Nation/World

Ira Political Leader Meets With Escapees

From Staff And Wire Reports

An Irish republican leader visited three escapees from a Belfast prison awaiting extradition to England before attending a rally to build support for peace talks scheduled for this week.

Martin McGuinness - chief negotiator for Sinn Fein, the political wing of the Irish Republican Army - visited the men, Saturday all self-proclaimed Irish nationalists who were among a group that escaped from Belfast’s Maze prison in 1983.

A federal judge in August agreed to extradite the three - Kevin Barry Artt, Pol Brennan and Terrance Kirby - to Britain, rejecting their arguments that they would be persecuted because they were Catholic and supported a united Ireland. Artt and Brennan were convicted of murder, and Kirby of possessing explosives.

“I find them in very good form,” McGuinness said. “I find all three of them very supportive of (the peace talks).”

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