RTÉ News visits Irish priest Father Niall O'Brien in a Philippine prison where he is being held on a murder charge.

Father Niall O'Brien and other members of the 'Negros Nine' prepare for trial in the Philippines where they have been charged with the murder of Mayor Pablo Sola of Kabankalan and four of his companions.

Ahead of the trial, RTÉ News reporter Charlie Bird travelled to the Philippines and spoke to Father O'Brien in the prison where he was being held with the eight others that made up the 'Negros Nine'.

Father O'Brien wore vestments with the wording 'No Tengas Miedo' (Don't Be Afraid) emblazoned across his stole.

On the subject of the length of the forthcoming trial, the Irish Columban missionary reckons it will go on for "a long, long time". 

If we're found innocent, somebody is very guilty for concocting such an extraordinary frame up against us. There is no way they can find us innocent.

Father O'Brien believes he and the eight others arrested were charged with the murder because their work brings them in close contact with the poor who they have taught to stand up for their rights in a non-violent way. He believes that by its very nature Christianity is subversive in that it asks for a new order where men and women can be brothers and sisters in a human way. According to Father O'Brien, this does not sit well with the old semi-feudal regime in the Philippines.  

Fr O'Brien is not hopeful that they will be found innocent as their innocence would highlight the corruption of the military system. 

It looks as if our future is very grim.

While Father O'Brien is struggling with the physical conditions in the prison, he finds solace in the human relations that he has with his fellow prisoners. 

He thanks the Irish people for their prayers and efforts to support his struggle for freedom. Father O'Brien urges the Irish government to take a stand on the morality of his imprisonment. 

An RTÉ News report broadcast on 22 February 1984. The reporter is Charlie Bird.