21 November 2002 Edition

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Former Beirut hostage visits Castlerea POWs

The Warrington Male Voice Choir, accompanied by former Beirut hostage Terry Waite and the Mayor and Mayoress of Warrington, visited Castlerea Prison in Roscommon recently for a performance by the choir.

At their own request, Waite, the mayor and mayoress and the leader of the choir had come to Ireland for a meeting with republican prisoners. They discussed Waite's experiences as a captive in Beirut and had a general discussion on the peace process.

The republican prisoners presented the Mayor of Warrington with a bodhran, which he said he would display in his office in the town hall and he in turn presented a republican prisoner with a pen set. The meeting was conducted in a very friendly manner throughout.

* A new campaign group to secure the release of the republican prisoners known as the Castlerea Five was launched in Strabane on Tuesday, 19 November.

The 'Free The Castlerea Five Campaign Support Group', said a spokesperson, "will be demanding that the Dublin government live up to its responsibilities under the Good Friday Agreement and stop holding the Castlerea Five as political hostages for domestic political reasons, while seeing fit to lecture others on living up to the promises they undertook".

Pearse McCauley, Michael O'Neill, John Quinn, Jerry Sheehy and Kevin Walsh are serving sentences in relation to the killing of Detective Garda Jerry McCabe in Adare on 7 June 1996.

The campaign points out that since the Good Friday Agreement was signed, a total of 429 prisoners have been released in the north and 45 have been released in the South. This includes people convicted of incidents that happened after the Adare robbery. The five men are the only prisoners convicted in relation to incidents that happened before the signing of the Good Friday Agreement.

The campaign will organise protests and produce literature over the coming weeks and months to highlight the duplicity of the Dublin government. They will also lobby political representatives through a letter writing campaign.

An Phoblacht
44 Parnell Sq.
Dublin 1

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