18 February 1999 Edition

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Praise for ex-POWs

Tommy Holland, Chairperson of the Upper Springfield Community Forum, which is representative of more than 70 groups in the area, has called on both the British and Twenty-Six County governments to ensure that the ``Good Friday Agreement'' is adhered to in relation to the release of prisoners.

In paying tribute to the role of ex-prisoners within the Upper Springfield community, Tommy Holland said, ``ex-prisoners have played a central and leading role in the development of the Upper Springfield community throughout many years. Ex-prisoners have acted as positive role models in a whole range of activities from education to enterprise, from culture to community development, including Arts, political activity and so on. Ex-prisoners have brought a range of skills from conflict resolution to mediation work. These skills are of vital importance for a society like ours that wants to mave from a conflict situation to a peace one''.

Mr Holland singled out the late Pat McGeown, a councillor for the Upper Springfield area, which has one of the largest ex-prisoner populations in Ireland.

He said Pat McGeown was typical of the type of approach adopted by ex-prisoners to creating a better environment for all our people to live in. ``It is time for communities like ours to repay people like Pat McGeown and demand from the British and Irish governments that the accelerated release scheme for prisoners is fully implemented and that all prisoners are home with their families, friends and communities before June 2000''.

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