IOL: Maze breakout would make good film - Kelly

Maze breakout would make good film - Kelly
19/09/2003 - 21:48:43

The biggest prison break-out in British history could be made into a popular film, it was claimed tonight.

Senior Sinn Féin member Gerry Kelly said people would enjoy hearing the story of the mass IRA escape from the Maze Prison in Co Antrim 20 years ago.

Up to 800 republicans and their families gathered at the Holiday Inn in Letterkenny, Co Donegal tonight for a reunion dinner and dance to celebrate the escape from the prison.

In September 1983, 38 IRA men shot their way out of the top security jail. While some were swiftly recaptured, 19 got clean away.

One prison officer died of a heart attack after he was stabbed with a prison workshop chisel during the escape and another guard was shot and wounded.

Mr Kelly, an escapee who went on to become the Sinn Féin representative for North Belfast in the now suspended Stormont Assembly, said republicans were “rightly proud” of the escape.

“This was a massive event in republican history, the unionists might not like it, although if I may be so bold as to say, most people like an escape,” he said.

“I enjoyed the Colditz film, people would enjoy this if a film was made of it.

“It was high drama, it was a mass escape. In (Margaret) Thatcher’s own words, I think at the time, the biggest crisis in British penal history.

“That’s the context it’s in. It was a good experience for me, I got out of jail, I had been in jail 10 years, I got my freedom.

“People will have different views of this but the fact is that in republican folklore, if I can say that, or indeed in republican history, this is a very significant event.”

Mr Kelly was jailed for life in 1973 for the Old Bailey and Scotland Yard bombings and was eventually captured in Holland after his escape from the Maze.

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