Nicky Kelly

Eamonn Noel Kelly (born 9 January 1951), known as Nicky Kelly, is an Irish politician from Arklow in County Wicklow. He was born Edward Noel Kelly from Graiguenamanagh, County Kilkenny. A member of Official Sinn Féin, later on he left it to join the new Irish Republican Socialist Party in 1974.[1]

Nicky Kelly
Wicklow Council Councillor
In office
Personal details
Born (1951-01-09) 9 January 1951 (age 69)
County Kilkenny, Ireland
Political partyIndependent
Other political
Labour Party (2001–11),
Irish Republican Socialist Party (1974–78),
Official Sinn Féin (1970–74)

Early lifeEdit

In the 1980s Kelly achieved fame throughout Ireland after he had been sentenced, in 1978, to 12 years in prison for his alleged part in the Sallins Train Robbery. The ensuing campaign to release him became a symbol of the 1980s with 'Free Nicky Kelly' graffiti posted throughout the country. The evidence of torture committed against him and his two co-accused, Osgur Breatnach and Brian McNally, galvanized a campaign for his release. There was a dedication to him in the 1983 Planxty album, Words & Music.

The future Workers' Party TD, Pat McCartan acted as his solicitor at this time, despite being on opposite sides in the Official Sinn Féin/IRSP split.[2]

In 1984 Kelly was eventually released on "humanitarian grounds". He received a presidential pardon in 1992, along with over £1 million as compensation following campaigns by Amnesty and the ICCL.

The events of Kelly's arrest and trial(s) were the subject of an edition of the RTÉ documentary series Scannal, broadcast 22 September 2014.

Political careerEdit

Kelly was elected to Arklow Town Council in 1991 and for Wicklow County Council in 1999.[3] In 2001 he joined the Labour party.[4]

In 2008 he was elected mayor of Arklow.

He stood unsuccessfully as a Labour party candidate for the Wicklow constituency at the 2002 general election where he was beaten to the final seat by Mildred Fox by 19 votes, and in the 2007 general election, where his first-preference vote declined from 12% in 2002 to 6%.[5] In early 2011, he left the Labour Party over a dispute about candidate selection at the party's convention.[6] Despite rumours that he was intending on joining Sinn Féin or the United Left Alliance he stood at the 2011 general election as an independent candidate in the Wicklow constituency. He was not elected getting only 0.7% of the first-preference vote.

He lost his seat at the 2014 local elections.


  1. ^ "Round Up the Usual Suspects - Nicky Kelly & The Cosgrave Coalition", by Dunne, Derek & Kerrigan, Gene, Magill, Dublin, 1984.
  2. ^ Adjournment Debate. - Nicky Kelly Case, 22 October 1991
  3. ^ Nicky Kelly election history
  4. ^ Nicky Kelly set to join Labour 'within weeks' by Gene McKenna, Irish Independent, 24 May 2001.
  5. ^ Ex-IRSP man still in talks[permanent dead link], Valerie Robinson, 2 June 2001.
  6. ^ Election 2011: Nicky Kelly enters Dail race Archived 2011-02-12 at the Wayback Machine, Stephen Dunne, 8 February 2011.