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Friday, 17 August, 2001, 18:10 GMT 19:10 UK
Cuba link to Colombia IRA suspect
They were named by Colombian police as David Bracken, James Monaghan and Martin McCauley
Niall Connolly, left, denies links with the IRA
By Daniel Schweimler in Havana

One of three suspected IRA men arrested in Colombia has lived in Havana representing the group's political wing, the Cuban Government says.

According to the foreign ministry, Niall Connolly was the legal representative for Sinn Fein in Latin America and had lived in Cuba for the past five years.

But Sinn Fein in Belfast has denied any knowledge of the man, or the other two detained with him - James Monaghan and Martin McCauley.

A foreign ministry spokeswoman said that, as far as they were concerned, Sinn Fein was a legal political party in both Great Britain and the Republic of Ireland and that Mr Connolly was its legal representative.

She would give no further details, but said there was no connection between any work he did in Cuba and anything he may be suspected of doing in Colombia.

Colombian rebels

The three men were picked up on Saturday in the Colombian capital, Bogota, after stepping off a flight from an area controlled by the country's largest guerrilla group, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, known as Farc. No formal charges have yet been filed against them.

All three have denied links with the Provisional IRA or Colombian guerrillas.

See also:

16 Aug 01 | Northern Ireland
Colombia suspects deny IRA links
13 Jan 01 | From Our Own Correspondent
Welcome to Farclandia
08 Feb 01 | Americas
New Colombia peace effort
17 Aug 01 | Americas
Colombia put on war footing
17 Aug 01 | Americas
Abuse horror of Colombia's displaced
17 Aug 01 | Northern Ireland
Who are IRA suspects?
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