Irish Echo Online - News

Sean Mackin arrested in Belfast

Sean Mackin.
Leading NY Irish republican charged with '83 murder
By Anne Cadwallader

BELFAST, April 9 -- Sean Mackin, a well-known Irish republican and fundraiser for Friends of Sinn Fein and a New York resident for many years, was arrested in Belfast today and charged with murder.

Sinn Fein has demanded the immediate release of Mackin and has contacted the US consulate in Belfast to protest his arrest. The police allegedly beat Mackin as he was being arrested.

A spokesperson for the Police Service of Northern Ireland would say only that: "a 45-year-old man was arrested by uniformed officers on suspicion of murder at Grosvenor Road, west Belfast, at 2.30."

"He was taken to the Antrim Serious Crimes Suite for questioning." Mackin is being held under the Terrorism Act 2000. Sinn Fein, family and friends of Mackin confirmed that he had been arrested.

The murder in question is believed to be that of Reserve Constable Colin Carson, killed in Cookstown, Co. Tyrone, on May 26, 1983.

Mackin, who is a US citizen, was allegedly dragged from a car and punched by police officers during the arrest operation on Friday on the Grosvenor Road in west Belfast. Sinn Fein said a child witnessed the arrest and that Mackin had shouted, "Run to Roisin's" (a reference to his sister's house nearby).

When his sister contacted the police, according to Sinn Fein, they denied they had him in custody. When a solicitor contacted the police some time later, they confirmed they had Mackin in custody in Antrim.

Sinn Fein said there was outrage in the area at Mackin's arrest. A spokesman said he was a frequent and open visitor to the area and had never been arrested before.

Mackin is believed to have been a member of the INLA for many years before he moved to the U.S.

Sinn Féin's policing spokesperson, Gerry Kelly, demanded Mackin's immediate release whom he described as a political refugee.

Kelly said, "Sean Mackin was visiting family in west Belfast as he has often done in the past when he was trailed from his car in the Roden Street area, assaulted and bundled into an unmarked PSNI vehicle."

"This vindictive arrest is outrageous and I am demanding the immediate release of Sean Mackin. Sinn Féin has been in contact with the US Consulate regarding this very serious matter."

"This action coming in the week when evidence of the Special Branch involvement in various criminal activities including murder was unveiled by Judge Cory is further evidence of the influence of the old regime over current policing arrangements."

This story appeared in the issue of April 7-13, 2004

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