herald

Tuesday 22 August 2017

How Ellis went from bomb-maker to a seat in Dail

SINN Fein TD Dessie Ellis was elected to the Dail in last year's general election after three unsuccessful attempts.

The Finglas-based politician sat on Dublin City Council since 1999 and unsuccessfully contested the 2002 and 2007 general elections.

Known as a staunch community activist, Mr Ellis has had a controversial and colourful life.

Born in north Dublin in 1952, Ellis previously said he became involved in republicanism from a "very, very early age".

The former TV repair man was convicted by the Special Criminal Court in 1983 of possession of electronic remote-controlled devices linked to bombs and was given a 10-year jail sentence.

He was known as an expert bomb-maker during the height of the Troubles in the 1970s.

The 60-year-old was arrested for the offence in May 1981 but jumped bail and fled to Canada and then the US. However he was arrested in the United States on immigration offences before being sent back to Ireland.

After serving almost eight years in Portlaoise Prison, he was extradited to England on explosive charges but was cleared by a jury after a dramatic trial in October, 1990.

After his acquittal, Mr Ellis became much more involved in politics and he was a supporter of the Good Friday peace agreement.

Served

In a recent interview, when asked whether he served on the IRA army council, he replied: "Let's just say I would have been one of the ... at the highest levels."

Known to take a strong line against drug dealers and dissident republicans in the Finglas/ Ballymun community which he represents, Mr Ellis is now the Sinn Fein spokesman on housing in a Dail which contains 14 members of his party.

In September, it emerged that Mr Ellis was paid over €35,000 in a "retirement gratuity" payment from Dublin City Council for giving up his seat after being elected to the Dail.

kdoyle@herald.ie

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