AP front 1 - 2022

27 April 2000 Edition

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Sinister agenda behind prison transfer


In a dramatic operation involving the Gardaí and 26-County military, republican political prisoners at Castlerea, County Roscommon were transferred to Portlaoise Jail overnight on Tuesday, 25 April.

The move followed a number of sensational and wildly inaccurate media reports concerning events involving the political prisoners and conditions in Castlerea.

Reacting to the victimisation of republican prisoners, Sinn Féin Ard Chomhairle member and Kerry County Councillor Martin Ferris said the decision for the transfer was based on unfounded allegations and a complete distortion of the truth and defied logic.

Councillor Ferris said: ``Throughout the day there was considerable misreporting in relation to events which followed a minor incident in Castlerea prison at the weekend. Those with a vested interest took this event and combined it with a string of unfounded allegations. And on the back of these bogus claims the government have acted unjustly and in bad faith and transferred republican prisoners from Castlerea to Portlaoise jail.

``The fact that the government acted on the basis of misreported and inaccurate information rather than on the basis of the actual truth is deeply concerning. Republicans are outraged at the train of events this evening and are asking who and what is behind this decision.

``There is an increasing suspicion among many republicans that there is an agenda being pursued by certain elements which seems to have the objective of causing real difficulties at this sensitive time in the peace process. We have to ask are they trying to undermine efforts to resolve the current crisis.

``We are raising this matter with the government tonight.''

In an earlier statement, the Sinn Féin Prisoners Department had refuted the sensationalist media claims about events in Castlerea. It said: ``In the last 24 hours a lot of innacurate and misleading information has appeared in the media in relation to a number of items which are in the possession of republican prisoners in Castlerea jail. Due to the seriousness of the allegations, we would like to clarify this matter immediately.

``The passport which was found belongs to one of the republican priosners. It was returned to him by a Garda Detective from Limerick six weeks ago, along with his driver's licence, and remains in his possession this evening. It was taken from the man at the time of his arrest.

``The £1,000 that is being referred to is money which belongs to all ten republican prisoners and is used as a float for telephone calls and food.

``The hammer and drill which were found are used by republican prisoners in the production of crafts, ie. harps and bodhrans.

``It is clear that those with an agenda against the remaining republican prisoners in Castlerea have been attempting to manipulate the media in order to present these matters in a very sinister light. It is a matter of deep concern this evening.''

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