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1 August 2002 Edition

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Sinn Féin reps call for release of Castlerea Prisoners

Sinn Féin Vice President and MP for West Tyrone Pat Doherty on Wednesday visited republican prisoners in Castlerea to discuss their continued detention in contravention of the Good Friday Agreement. Speaking prior to the visit, Doherty called for their immediate release.

Three of Sinn Féin's five TDs had visited the republican prisoners the previous week to discuss their continued detention in contravention of the Good Friday Agreement. The meeting on Friday 26 June, with Seán Crowe, Aengus Ó Snodaigh and Arthur Morgan, was arranged at the request of the prisoners. Speaking afterwards, Crowe said:

"We went to Castlerea today to listen to the concerns of the prisoners and to express our continued support for their immediate release. It is quite clear under the Good Friday Agreement these prisoners qualify for early release. The Agreement states categorically that all prisoners belonging to organisations on ceasefire qualify for early release and that that release should happen no later than two years after the agreement is signed. That was 1998. It is now 2002. The government is in clear breach of its commitments under the Agreement. The men should be released immediately.

"While recognising the pain and suffering that the release of the prisoners may cause for some and not wishing to add further to it, Sinn Féin maintains the view that there can be no exceptions. There is nothing my colleagues or I could possibly say or do that could lessen the sense of loss suffered by the McCabe family. However, I strongly believe that these prisoners must not be used as political hostages. We all signed up to the Agreement in good faith. Republicans have lived up to our responsibilities; others must do likewise."
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