8 January 2004 Edition
Former prisoner made to miss flight
Martin McGuinness has called for an end to the harassment of Irish people at British airports following a former prisoner being made to miss his flight home from London just before Christmas.
Brian Arthurs and his wife were returning from a weekend visit to his brother, who lives in England, when he was detained by British Security Services and held without explanation until after his flight had departed.
During his detention, Arthurs said he was not interviewed about anything and it seemed that he was being held simply as an act of harassment. His wife was refused any information about why he was being held and she was not allowed to leave the departure area.
Once the flight to Belfast, where Brian's car was parked, had departed, he was released and put on a flight to Dublin for which he had to pay over £200. Further additional expense was incurred by having to arrange to be picked up in Dublin.
"I have been in contact a number of times today with John Spellar attempting to receive an explanation for the detention of former prisoner Brian Arthurs and his wife at Heathrow Airport," said McGuinness.
"I intend to take this up directly with the British Government and demand an end to this political harassment of Irish people and particularly of former prisoners, who are making a tremendous contribution to the Peace Process."