AP front 1 - 2022

16 January 1997 Edition

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Women's Coalition supports McAliskey bail call


The Six-County Women's Coalition, the women's group set up to fight last year's Stormont elections, has called for Irish prisoner Roisin McAliskey, who is nearly six months pregnant, to be granted bail on humanitarian grounds. McAliskey, the daughter of human rights campaigner Bernadette McAliskey, faces extradition to Germany but has been repeatedly denied bail for the past two months by British courts, despite her condition. She needs constant medical attention but is currently held in Holloway Prison, which has been condemned as dirty, overcrowded and understaffed.

On Tuesday 14 January, the Women's Coalition said, ``Independent medical reports on Roisín McAliskey state that her pregnancy is being complicated, not only by her digestive and muscular disorder and stress-related asthma, but also by her current prison conditions...High security female prisoners are not normally sent to Holloway, so Roisín McAliskey is being held in isolation. What this means is that emergency medical facilities can only become available to her after the mobilisation of special security staff, She is clearly not getting the proper medical care appropriate to her condition.''

Fuascailt, the Irish political prisoners campaign, is today (Thursday, 16 January), picketing Bow Street magistrates court to demand McAliskey's release.


MEP calls for inquiry into ``inhumane' prison conditions


Green Party MEP Patricia McKenna has called on the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture (CPT) to send an official delegation to British prisons to investigate the conditions under which Irish republican prisoners and Irish remand prisoners are held on political charges. She has also called on Amnesty International to investigate what she described as the ``inhumane'' conditions forced on Irish prisoners.

The Green Party representative detailed a list of complaints made by prisoners and backed up by Irish politicians who have visited them. These include: routine strip searching, including forced squats and anal searches; the denial of open legal and family visits; a lack of exercise; a lack of reading material or other sources of entertainment; inadequate access to medical attention and a denial of access to religious services.

She said that the restriction on legal access was likely to contravene Article 69b) of the European Convention on Human Rights which recognises the prisoner's right ``to have adequate time and facilities for the preparation of a defence''.


Whitemoor Trial Opens


The trial of the six men charged with escaping from Whitemoor Prison in Cambridgeshire began again on Wednesday 15 January. The trial had originally collapsed in September last year. Five of the prisoners are Irish, republican POWs Peter Sherry, Liam McCotter, Liam O Duibhir and Paul Magee and miscarriage of justice victim Danny McNamee. The sixth prisoner, Andrew Russell, is English and a non-political prisoner.

Appearing at Woolwich Crown Court, the men pleaded not guilty to charges of escaping from Whitemoor Prison in September 1996 and possession of firearms. Paul `Dingus'' Magee did not attend the court and has refused any legal representation. The case is continuing.


Dog attack on Belmarsh visitor


An Irish prisoner's relative was attacked by a sniffer dog at the High Secure Unit in London's Belmarsh Prison. When she was ordered to stand for the dog to sniff her a second time it jumped up on her with its paws on her chest, forcing her heavily into a wall. By now badly shaken, she was subjected to yet another pass by the dog for a humiliating third time in front of 10 to 15 prison officers and visitors before being taken away for an intimate body search, as prison officers accused her of being in possession of an illegal substance. No drugs were found but no apology was offered by any staff member. After the search she was told privately that a simple medication for a cold like Night Nurse could make the dog react.

The woman is now suffering severe pain in her neck and lower back. She was treated in casualty in London's Whittington Hospital and has been referred for specialist treatment for her injuries. Several attempts to meet the Governor of Belmarsh to discuss the dangerous animal have proved futile. What made the entire episode farcical is that the woman was going into a closed visit, with a perspex screen preventing her from having any physical contact with the prisoner.


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