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6 February 1997 Edition

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Call for pressure on Germany over Roisín McAliskey

Pregnant woman strip-searched daily



BY MICHEAL MacDONNCHA

Roisín McAliskey is being strip-searched daily in an English jail, it was revealed at a packed public meeting in Dublin on Tuesday night. Several hundred people crowded into the main hall in the Teacher's Club to hear Bernadette McAliskey speak of the bizarre frame-up and extradition attempt which has seen her six-months pregnant daughter held as a Special Category A prisoner in Holloway.

Roisín (25) is sought for extradition in connection with the 1996 Osnabruck Barracks bombing by the IRA. The only evidence is her alleged identification by a German witness from a photograph forcibly taken by the RUC while she was in Castlereagh Interrogation Centre last November, and two finger-prints on a piece of cellophane cigarette box wrapping. This is supposed to have been found ``in association with'' a holiday home in Germany but the Germans have failed to explain exactly where it was found. Lawyers representing the German authorities have successfully opposed bail three times, thus ensuring Roisín's continued incarceration in inhuman conditions.

``In unbelievably good spirits'' was how Bernadette described her daughter's morale. Unbelievable it certainly is when you consider that she is strip-searched in her cell every evening at eight before the cell is stripped of all belongings except enough reading and writing material for one night. She has to face strip-searches before and after every visit and court appearance. As a Category A High Risk Prisoner she is treated at all times as if there is an imminent danger of her escape. Thus she cannot have access to the pregnancy unit at Holloway because all the other prisoners would have to be evacuated. She has been told by the governer that he fears Whittington Hospital may refuse to admit her because of the level of attendant security. It is feared that she may be kept in the jail until she goes into labour. She may also be separated from her child as soon as it is born.

Green MEP Patricia McKenna, who herself gave birth last year, expressed her horror at the case. She described her work in the European Parliament where pressure needed to be brought to bear on Germany to stop opposing bail and to drop the extradition proceedings. She called on the Dublin government to raise the issue at the next EU Council of Ministers meeting.

``Roisín is one of our own and deserves every protection we can give her as a citizen of the state,'' said Eamon O Cuív TD of Fianna Fáil. He said ``we don't have the luxury of time'' as Roisín's pregnancy proceeds. Maximum pressure was needed now on both the British and German authorities.

* The Roisín McAliskey Justice Group has called on people to write and fax to Dick Spring TD, Tánaiste, Iveagh House, 80 St Stephen's Green, Dublin 2 Fax 01 478 2708 demanding his immediate public intervention with the British and German authorities on Roisín McAliskey's behalf.

* Write and fax also to Horst Pakowski, Ambassador of the Federal Republic of Germany, 31 Trimleston Avenue, Booterstown, Blackrock, County Dublin, Fax 269 3946, demanding that his government stop opposing bail.

* A picket in support of Roisín McAliskey is being held at the British Embassy, Ballsbridge, Dublin on Saturday 8 February from 12 noon to 1.30pm.
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