29 October 1998 Edition

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Action needed on Political Prisoners

Ahead of the Saoirse conference in the Felons club, Belfast on 1 November four Saoirse activists were in Belfast Magistrate's Court on Tuesday 27 October on charges relating to a high profile protest on the rooftop of the Waterfront Hall situated across from Belfast's Crown court during the appeal hearing of British soldier Lee Clegg.

Speaking AP/RN, Saoirse activist Robert McClenaghan said: ``There are still so many issues surrounding the release of POWs that it is crucial that people keep focused and don't leave it up to Stormont. People still need to mobilise.''

He highlighted the problems faced by many political prisoners who have been or are awaiting repatriation. McClenaghan said: ``The British Home Office is controlling the release and licences of POWs who have been repatriated. This situation, for instance, leaves the prospect of Geraldine Ferrity remaining as the last and only remaining female republican POW in Maghaberry.

``Political prisoners abroad are also having their applications for the early release scheme knocked back and being told it doesn't apply to them.''

McClenaghan added: ``The British are also digging in their heels on repatriation and demanding cast-iron guarantees from the Dublin government that they serve at least 2 years. This, we feel, is a breach of the Good Friday Agreement.''

McClenaghan also said that employment restrictions placed on former political prisoners released on license is also an issue of great importance.

Saoirse national organiser, Martin Meehan, speaking to AP/RN said: ``The aim of the conference is to look back over the last four years and assess the impact of our campaigns and mobilisations, and then to look forward to the how the issues relating to our POWs will develop and asking what we need to be doing five years down the line''

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