Fr Niall O'Brien Released

It is now 30 years since Columban Missionary Fr Niall O'Brien returned home from the Philippines.

On 6 May 1983 Fr Niall was arrested along with an Australian colleage and a number of lay workers, for the murders of Mayor Pablo Sola of Kabankalan and four of his companions. The nine captives were imprisoned for over a year on Negros Island.

The case gained much publicity in Ireland. RTÉ reporter Charlie Bird even got to interview Fr O'Brien in his prison cell for RTÉ News. In one telephone interview from his prison cell Fr O'Brien communicated "as Gaeilge" to indicate that the prison guards were listening in to the conversation.

US President Ronald Reagan is largely credited with the captives gaining their freedom. They were finally freed on 3 July 1984.

On 13 July 1984 David Davin-Power interviewed Fr O'Brien after his release on the programme 'This Week'.

Fr. Niall O'Brien
Fr Niall O'Brian (with flowers around his neck) with Cardinal Tomas O'Fiaich (second left) and his mother on his arrival to Ireland after being imprisoned in the Philippines.