The government recommends a Presidential Pardon for Nicky Kelly, over his conviction and subsequent imprisonment for involvement in the Sallins Train Robbery.
At a news conference at government buildings, the Minister for Justice Padraig Flynn announced that the government was requesting the President to grant an immediate pardon to Nicky Kelly under Article 13.6 of the constitution in respect of his conviction on 15 December 1978.
Minister Flynn explained that the evidence provided in the RTÉ 'Wednesday Report' programme had contributed to the decision to request a pardon for Mr Kelly. In the programme a Scottish speech pattern expert said that the statement which was used to convict Kelly was not the work of one person. The pardon would effectively remove any charges made against Mr Kelly.
Speaking to Charlie Bird following a press conference Minister Flynn said
The government agreed today to recommend a pardon to Nicky Kelly and in the eyes of the law he's innocent of all the charges that were brought against him.
Minister Flynn said the verdict was a decision made by the courts on the basis of the evidence available at the time. He said that as new evidence came to light, the entire case was reviewed and recommendations for a pardon were made.
Nicky Kelly is an innocent man of all the charges that were brought against him.
An RTÉ News report broadcast on 28 April 1992. The reporter is Charlie Bird.
The granting of a pardon was a long and arduous process and is best understood in the context of the sequence of events that occurred between the robbery in 1976 and the present.
A mail train travelling from Cork to Dublin had been held up by armed and masked men near Sallins in County Kildare. Bags containing an estimated £200,000 were stolen.
During the trial of Nicky Kelly and his two co-accused, there were allegations of ill-treatment during questioning and suggestions of a Garda heavy gang. All of these allegations were denied by Gardaí. In Kelly's case, the medical officer of Mountjoy Prison told the court that bruising on him was consistent with having been beaten or knocked about. However, the court accepted Garda denials and all three men were convicted. Four days before the court decision, Kelly absconded while out on bail and was sentenced in his absence to twelve years in prison.
Two years later the court of appeal quashed the convictions of the other two, Oscar Breathnach and Bernard McNally, on the basis that their alleged verbal statements were not legally admissible. Kelly, who had fled to the US, returned but his appeal was dismissed. He then appealed to the supreme court on a point of law concerning his detention under the Offences Against the State Act. However, this appeal was also turned down.
Kelly later went on hunger strike and was moved to the military hospital in the Curragh Camp. He petitioned the then Minister for Justice, Michael Noonan, for remission of his remaining sentence on medical grounds and in May 1984 after serving four years was released on what Mr Noonan called humanitarian grounds. Nicky Kelly continued to campaign to clear his name, claiming he was convicted on a fabricated statement.
In October 1991 the then Minister for Justice Mr Ray Burke said he would consider claims made on an RTÉ 'Wednesday Report' on the case. In March 1992, the Minister for Justice Mr Flynn told the Dáil that Kelly's legal advisors had submitted a petition to the government requesting a pardon and that this was being considered in consultation with the Attorney General. The Attorney General then made a recommendation to government to submit a request for a Presidential Pardon.