CAMPAIGNERS for the ‘Colombia Three’ last night accused the authorities in Bogota of deliberately hindering the defence team representing the three Irish suspects. ‘Bring Them Home’ campaign head Caitriona Ruane and solicitor Peter Madden had been due to travel to South America on Saturday, but cancelled the trip at the last minute due to administrative hold-ups. The two campaigners had originally requested permission to travel to the San Vicente de Caguan region of Colombia – the zone the three Irish suspects visited prior to their detention by the Colombian authorities. However, the campaigners received a letter on Friday saying their request had been turned down. Last night, Ms Ruane said she was increasingly concerned for the safety of Martin McCauley, James Monaghan and Niall Connolly. The three were arrested by the Colombian military on August 11 and are accused of training members of the leftist Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). The men deny the claim but admit they were travelling on false passports. They are currently being held in a police compound after being moved from Bogota’s notorious Modelo jail. Martin McCauley (39), originally from Lurgan, was wounded in 1982 during an attack on a hay-shed by RUC officers. The father-of-three, who was Sinn Fein director of elections in Upper Bann during the 1996 forum election, was the only survivor of the alleged shoot-to-kill operation. Donegal-born James Monaghan is a former member of Sinn Fein’s ard comhairle, who was jailed in the 1970s for planting incendiary devices in shops and businesses. He was later jailed for firearms possession. In July 1976 he escaped from Dublin special criminal court with three other IRA suspects after a double bomb blast caused chaos. Fluent Spanish speaker Niall Connolly (36), from Dublin, “facilitated visits by Sinn Fein delegations to Cuba”, according to the campaign but has “never been a member of any political party”. Sinn Fein has dismissed claims by the Cuban government that Mr Connolly represented the party in Havana. Following the eleventh hour cancellation of the Colombia trip, Ms Ruane accused the Bogota authorities of deliberately hindering the efforts of the defence team. “We had requested permission from the high commissioner for peace in Colombia two weeks ago in which we stated what days we would be travelling,” she said “Five days after we requested permission the president of the country went on TV to say that foreigners can now only go into that part of the country with special permission.” Ms Ruane said it was essential that the suspects’ defence team was allowed access to the San Vincente de Caguan zone in order to verify the investigation being carried out by the Colombian authorities. “It’s the job of the Colombian prosecutor to find evidence for and against these men and we needed to know if he has gone to the zone and talked to people. But there’s no point in going if we can’t do what we’re supposed to do.” Ms Ruane also claimed that the three men’s Colombian legal team was being obstructed. “We have spoken to our defence team and it seems they are being thwarted at every turn,” she said. “The lawyers have had their lives threatened by right-wing paramilitaries and they still haven’t got full book of evidence. “It appears some newspapers have more legal papers than the defence team.” Ms Ruane said she had briefed the Irish government on the developments and was hopeful of travelling to Colombia shortly.