Post Office victimises worker because he was interned 25 years ago

INTERNMENT without trial was ended in the south of Ireland in 1961 but for one man its effects live on and several Ministers and numerous TDs have effectively connived in the victimisation of this man, simply because he was jailed without trial 25 years ago.

The man is Bart Gormley of Tuam, Co. Galway. He was emmployed as a Post Office worker in Castlebar in 1957 and was arrested under the Offences Against TIle State Act on July 7 of that year. He was interned without trial under an order made by the then Minister for Justice. Oscar Traynor, on the following day.

On October 8, 1957 he was informed that he was suspended from duty by the Post Office. in spite of the fact that he had not been found in breach of any of the Post Office's regulations and, of course, had been connvicted of nothing in the courts. He was offered release from innternment in 1958 with the prooviso that he sign an undertaking "to respect the Constitution of Ireland and the laws" and to declare that he would not be "a member of, or assist, any orrganisation which is an unlawful organisation under the Offences Against The State Act, 1939".

Like the vast majority of interrnees at the time he refused to sign. His reason for doing so was that he could not be reasonably expected to respect a constituution under which he had been interned without trial.

He was released from internnment in November 1959 and appplied for re-instatement with the Post Office. He was informed on December 15, 1959 that he would be restored to duty in his former capacity, provided he signed precisely the same form that had been offered him while interned. He refused to do so again, pointing out that while he was prepared to undertake to obey the rules of the Post Office and to obey the laws and constitution of the state. He was not prepared to sign an undertaking stating that he "respected" the Constitution which had permitted his internment without trial.

He approached the Post Office Workers Union about the matter and they swiftly washed their hands of the case. Since then he has pestered successive Ministers
for Posts and Telegraphs and local TDs about the matter. He received countless Ministerial letters assuring him that his case was being reviewed. For instance the last three junion Ministers in the Department of Posts and Telegraphs, Mark Killilea, Paddy Harte and the current Minister, Terry Leyden, have all written to him telling him that his case is "under consideration".

Eventually he got Tony Gregory TD to put down a Parliamentary Question on the matter and the written reply was given on June 29 last. This stated simply:
"the person concerned is aware the of the circumstances in which was suspended and the basis on which he could be restored to duty".

In other words, because he was interned without trial 25 years ago, he must still give an undertaking which no other Post Office worker is required to give.