22 May 1997 Edition

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Prisoners transferred

By Eoin O Broin

British Labour Party Home Secretary Jack Straw has announced the transfer of two Irish political prisoners to jails in the six counties. Miscarriage of justice victim Danny McNamee and POW Liam McCotter will be transferred to Maghaberry Prison on a temporary basis for six months. Prison service officials said the length of their sentences will not be affected by the move.

Welcoming the move, Martin McGuinness said, ``I hope that these transfers signal the begining of more humane considerations by the British authorities towards Irish political prisoners. Those who have campaigned on their behalf must be congratulated and should continue their efforts to have all Irish political prisoners repatriated''.

Earlier in the week McGuinness, speaking after his visit to the House of Commons, spoke of the importance of dealing with political prisoners as one area in which the British Labour government could build confidence with the nationalist community in the six counties. He specifically singled out the case of Roisín McAliskey, who is due to give birth this week, as requiring urgent attention.

Newspaper reports have suggested that Home Secretary Jack Straw is considering transferring three other prisoners to Portlaoise Jail in the 26 counties. The three men are Denis Kinsella, Vincent Wood and Patrick Hayes, who all requested transfers in 1995. However, prisons spokespersons stressed that each case will be considered individually and there was no indication when an announcement would be made.

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