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27 February 1997 Edition

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Pressure grows for McAliskey

By Eoin O'Broin

The Civil Liberties Committee of the European Parliament has agreed to send a delegation to visit Roisín McAliskey after hearing pleas from Fianna Fail MEP Niall Andrews and Green Party MEP Patricia McKenna.

McKenna urged Green MEPs throughout Europe to press their governments on exactly where they stood on the issue of bail. Andrews said that the conditions she was being kept in were ``virtual torture''.

Meanwhile the dispute over who is responsible for the denial of bail for McAliskey continues. At a meeting in London with two British Labour MPs, former shadow secretary for the north Kevin McNamara and Jeremy Corbyn, the German ambassador, Dr Jurgen Oesterhelt, said that the Crown Prosecution Service, which is representing the German authorities, has misunderstood their position on bail and he would write to McAliskey's solicitor, Gareth Peirce, to clarify the situation.

Solicitors for the CPS have repeatedly claimed in court that the German authorities opposed bail for McAliskey because they feared she would abscond.

Sinn Fein candidate for North Belfast, Gerry Kelly, accused the British government of double standards over its continued imprisonment of McAliskey. He said, ``at a time when no semblance of humanity can be offered to Roisín McAliskey, the British military and political establishments have thrown their weight behind a campaign for the release of two Scots guards jailed for life for the murder of a young Belfast man.''

Fuascailt, the Irish political prisoners campaign group in Britain, held a picket on Saturday 22 February outside the Lufthansa German Airlines office in Old Bond Street London. Spokesperson Peter Middleton said, ``Fuascailt demands that the German government stop proceedings against Roisín McAliskey''.

Support for the release of McAliskey has also come from a group of American celebrities. In an Open Letter to Bernadette McAliskey, Academy award winner Ellen Burstyn, poet June Jordan, Manhattan Borough President Ruth Messinger, and authors Gloria Steinen and Jennifer Harbury said: ``We add our voices to the myriad of voices calling on the German and British governments to allow Roisín McAliskey to be released on bail.'' The Guatemalan Human Rights Commission also supported the call.

Roisin McAliskey has received her first open visit in four months. Her partner Sean McCotter visited Holloway Road jail last Monday 24 February.
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