McAliskey - News & Campaign

F. Stuart Ross (fsross@mailbox.syr.edu)
Wed, 5 Mar 1997 22:03:01 +0000


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1. You must support McAliskey _______________________________ STORY OF THE CAMPAIGN 2. A Celebration of Endurance _______________________________ NEWS ABOUT ROISIN 3. `McAliskey a bomber' - Jibe at Commons debate sparks row 4. Roisin `may not be fit mother' say British 5. Growing urgency about McAliskey _______________________________ ACTIVIST BULLETINS 6. Flowers for Roisin 7. Action for Roisin 8. Write to Roisin 9. More about Roisin _______________________________

>>>>You must support McAliskey

Roisin McAliskey will spend International Women's Day in prison with the prospect that her baby will be born in two month's time and then be taken from her. Hers is one of the most disgraceful examples of British mistreatment of Irish political prisoners ever seen. History has proved that the British authorities will not move on prison issues until faced with overwhelming public protest.

International Women's Day is when that support must be mobilised to the fullest extent. Time is running out. Everyone should attend protest actions in their area.

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STORY OF THE CAMPAIGN

>>>>A Celebration of Endurance

--
Eoin O'Broin charts the growing campaign for Roisin McAliskey and
speaks to women who support the calls for her release on bail
--

On March 8 International Womens Day, Roisin McAliskey, who is seven months pregnant, will spend her 109th day in jail. She has been strip searched almost 100 times since her arrest last November. Her medical condition is worsening. Weight loss and stress-related asthma continue to endanger the health of her child. The British authorities have denied her access to proper medical facilities, and keep her locked in her cell for 23 hours a day with no exercise or recreational time. And now doubt has been placed over McAliskey's right to keep her child when it is born.

Yet McAliskey, whose category A status in Holloway prison places her in a more dangerous category that Rosemary West, has yet to be charged with any offence. Although she is wanted for questioning in Germany in relation to the 1995 bombing of a British army base in Osnabruck, her arrest, detention and denial of bail have all been initiated by the British government and the RUC. German embassy officials in London and Dublin as well as government representatives in Germany have made it clear that they have no objection to bail.

International Womens Day will be the high point of a campaign which has mobilised opinion across the world. Calling for McAliskey's immediate release on bail, the campaign has received the support of the Dublin government, nationalist politicians north and south, senior British Labour party representatives, a host of human rights organisations including Amnesty International, and hundreds of thousands of people in every continent. From 1pm on 8 March more than 20 protests will be taking place simultaneously. In Germany, Australia, Norway, London, San Fransisco, Washington, New York, Edinburgh, Derry, Monaghan, Newry, Omagh, Belfast and Dublin, thousands of people will be registering their horror and anger at a British government which continues to deny Roisin McAliskey the most basic of human rights.

London will be the focus of the protests, with a Serenade for Roisin being organised by an ad hoc group of women from Fuascailt, the political prisoners campaign in Britain. Hundreds of women's organisations have been invited to support the event. High profile legal lobbyists, Justice for Women and the Southall Black Sisters have pledged support and will accompany the city's many Irish women's groups. Protest organiser Ann Rossiter spoke of the lack of any real press coverage of Roisin's case in the British media. "The aim of the day is to rally support from influential women's groups around the country and generate as much media attention as possible," she said. Outlining the historical importance of Holloway prison to the women's movement, Rossiter stressed that the day's events were to be seen as "a celebration of endurance. The endurance of Roisin against an uncivilised and inhumane British government, and the broader endurance of women in the face of discrimination and inequality no matter what form it manifests itself."

A delegation of women political representatives will be visiting McAliskey in Holloway during the Serenade. Organised by the Roisin McAliskey Justice Group, the delegation is intended to increase the political pressure on the British authorities.

Cecelia Keaveney, who represents Donegal North East, asked "what risk could a 7 month pregnant, seven stone woman be to anybody? The aim of our trip is to highlight the issue of Roisin's detention, and to add to the work done by other TDs here in Dublin." Asked if she was hopefull that the visit would have any impact on McAliskey's situation, Keaveney said that "you don't go on such a delegation unless you think that something will come out of it. We need to keep puttting on the pressure, highlighting the case publicly and working in the background. We have a united front of women from across the Dail and women from north and south".

Sinn Fein councillor Mary Nelis has called on the German and British authorities to drop their extradiction request for McAliskey. Nelis said, "Britain's degrading treatment of Irish political prisoners hasn't changed in 100 years. The treatment of Roisin as we approach the end of this century shows that the British racist treatment of Irish prisoners is still one of degradation and inhumanity". Nelis stressed the importance of International Women's Day and the solidarity events surrounding McAliskey's imprisonment. "8 March is the one day in the year during which the suffering experienced by women as women is recognised. But equally importantly it involves a recognition of women's strength and determination in struggling against discrimination and inequality".

Roisin McAliskey fact sheet

* Roisin McAliskey, 25, is nearly eight months pregnant and weighs less than 95 pounds.

* Since Nov. 20, 1996, she has been in a British prison.

* The British claim she has knowledge of an IRA attack on a British Army barracks in Osnabruck, Germany, that took place in June 1996.

* She has denied any knowledge of the attack.

* She has not been charged with any crime.

* The British government refuses to grant her bail.

* The German government refuses to act in her favor and has opposed bail.

* She will likely be shackled when she gives birth in jail.

* The British government has told her mother, civil rights activist and former British MP Bernadette Devlin McAliskey, that she will not be allowed to attend the birth of her first grandchild.

* Mother and child will be separated after birth.

* Roisin suffers from asthma and rheumatism, is underweight and in poor health.

* She is being held in solitary confinement in Holloway Prison outside London.

* She is not permitted in prison common areas and has no contact with other prisoners.

* She is classified a "Category A" prisoner, at high risk of escape.

* She does not have access to adequate medical care.

* She is strip-searched twice a day, despite the fact that she has no contract with other prisoners.

* Her family may visit her only once every two weeks.

* There is a partition between her and family members when they meet.

* During visits, she may not touch family members.

* She is not permitted visits from anyone outside her family other than her attorney.

* Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and civil liberties groups in Ireland and Britain have voice concern over her condition.

* The European Parliament has expressed concern over her situation and plans on sending a delegation to meet with her.

* At the time of her arrest, she was a community activist and a former student at Queen's University, Belfast.

* She has no prior record of involvement with any paramilitary organization.

* At the age of nine, she witnessed a loyalist death squad attack on her mother and father inside their home in Coalisland, Ireland, that nearly killed them both.

* Irish Deputy Prime Minister Dick Spring has filed an appeal with the British House of Lords in an effort to seek bail for Roisin.

* American celebrities, including Ellen Burstyn, June Jordan, Gloria Steinem, Jennifer Harbury and Manhattan Borough President Ruth Messinger have signed an open letter to Bernadette Devlin McAliskey in support for Roisin.

* Activists around the world have protested in front of British and German embassies to draw attention to Roisin's plight.

* Representatives of a number of Irish American organizations met with the German Council General in Washington, D.C. last November regarding the treatment of Roisin.

* Her next hearing is scheduled for March 12.

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NEWS ABOUT ROISIN (March 6)

>>>>`McAliskey a bomber' - Jibe at Commons P.T.A. debate sparks row

An extraordinary outburst in Britain's parliament may jeopardise Roisin McAliskey's campaign against extradition by German authorities who have accused her of involvement in an IRA attack on a British Army base on German soil.

As a nationalist member of parliament described the appalling conditions in Holloway Prison where Roisin is being held, Conservative Party lawmaker Rupert Allason jibed: "She should have thought of that before she bombed people."

MPs were debating the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA) by which Irish citizens are routinely detained and forcefully interrogated, without any charge being made against them, for up to seven days. The measures were renewed last night for another twelve months, with Labour abstaining as in previous years.

Raising the case during debate on the annual renewal of special anti-terrorism powers, Mr Mallon, nationalist representative for Newry and Armagh, told other MPs: "The respect for the dignity of a human being must surely be at the heart of our system of justice.

"For a woman who is almost seven months pregnant to be strip-searched almost 60 times while that person is on remand, not found guilty of anything, must surely be an affront to the dignity of a human being.

"That respect for the dignity of human life, especially for a woman who is carrying the precious gift of life, should be the overriding factor in his consideration."

Mr Allason's comment then sparked a furore. Labour MPs Ken Livingstone and Kevin McNamara protested about the remark, which echoed a similar comment about six Irish miscarriage of justice victims made Tuesday by another Tory MP.

David Evans scoffed at two schoolchildren interviewers when they suggested the Birmingham Six, wrongly imprisoned for seventeen years, were innocent. "If you believe that you believe anything," he said. They killed "hundreds of people" before being caught, he ranted in interview he gave to two 17-year-old pupils for their school newspaper.

Mr Evans also described National Heritage Secretary Virginia Bottomley as "dead from the neck upwards" and Melanie Johnson - Labour's candidate for his seat - as a single girl, living with her boyfriend, who had "never done a proper job" and having "three bastard children".

While the Birmingham six have said they intend to sue Mr Evans for libel, it is not clear what legal recourse is available to Roisin against what is clearly an overwhelming and systematic prejudice against Irish citizens in the British establishment.

*********

>>>>Roisin `may not be fit mother' say British

Roisin McAiskey has refused to meet with British authorities who have sought to assess her suitability as a mother.

Ms McAliskey, who is almost seven months pregnant, is on remand in Holloway prison in north London awaiting extradition to Germany to face charges in relation to an IRA mortar attack on a British army barracks.

Her baby is due on May 21st, according to her sister, but she is expected to give birth next month.

"Roisin has been asked to comply with a meeting with social services to test her fitness to be a mother," her sister Deirdre McAliskey said yesterday. "She has refused to meet them because of the nature of the meeting - that it is a test of whether or not she would be fit to keep her child."

Her sister last saw Ms McAliskey in a closed visit before Christmas. Apart from Ms McAliskey's partner, Mr Sean McCotter, all other visits have been closed. Mr McCotter had the first open visit for an hour on Monday. "They sat across a table from each other, shadowed by prison guards who were closer to Roisin and Sean than they were to each other," Ms Deirdre McAliskey said. "It's still going to be a number of days before we hear whether or not Roisin will be allowed to keep the child."

A spokesman for the British Prisons Service said social services would automatically be involved in any decision on a baby born to a prisoner. The decision about Ms McAliskey's baby may not be made until next week, he said.

Social services had not been informed of Ms McAliskey's refusal to see them. "They effectively have operation of the mother and baby unit." He said a decision would depend on their assessment. "Their decision will be made on a number of different considerations, including the question of the mother's background. . . and all the other questions you would be expected to be asked."

Ms Deirdre McAliskey, who is campaigning for her sister, said she was going to New York this week to rally for Roisin. A number of women TDs and MPs are expected to accompany Ms McAliskey's mother, Ms Bernadette McAliskey, on a prison visit.

*******

>>>>Growing urgency about McAliskey

By a Fuaiscailt spokesperson

In London, as elsewhere, there is a growing sense of urgency surrounding the imprisonment of Roisin McAliskey, engendered by the knowledge that her baby will be born in a matter of weeks -- and that she is having to contend with the unimaginable stress of knowing that her baby is likely to be taken from her and placed in the care of social services.

A delegation which included two of our members recently accompanied Bernadette McAliskey to the German Embassy in London where they were greeted by an embarrassed official who assured them it is not his government which opposed bail for Roisin, but the British. Germany, he said, is extremely anxious to get the whole matter dealt with as quickly as possible.

But nothing close to a case against Roisin has been presented by the Germans. They also refuse to state inside the court what they claim outside it. If they do not oppose bail, then their counsel should state that at Roisin's next court appearance.

It has been very instructive to many observers here (although completely unsurprising to Irish nationalists) that Britain and Germany -- two countries which pride themselves on being advanced democracies -- have legal systems which allow them to imprison an individual, without charge, for a seemingly indefinite period of time. What is this practice if not internment by another name?

Meanwhile, Roisin's condition becomes ever more urgent. The Fuascailt pickets at her court appearances are gaining in supporters, volume and press coverage. On 22 February 400 members of the group staged another well-publicised demonstration, this time outside the Lufthansa offices in London, urging potential customers to boycott the airline until Roisin is released and receiving an extremely positive response from the majority of passers-by.

The governor of Holloway Prison was stung into responding to his critics last week via a letter to the Guardian, in which he explained that Roisin's partner has now -- after three months -- been cleared as an 'approved visitor' and that she will not be shackled, as prisoners have been in the past, whilst giving birth. The matter of constant strip searching, the lack of proper healthcare and the threatened removal of her baby after birth was avoided.

The next event in the Fuascailt campaign will be a public meeting in London addressed by Bernadette McAliskey on Friday 7 March, followed by a 24-hour fast outside Holloway Prison, beginning at 12.00 noon on Saturday 8 March. This fast is also in support of all Irish POWs in English jails, whether on remand in Belmarsh prison or serving ferocious tariffs and refused repatriation.

*******

_______________________________

ACTIVIST BULLETINS

>>>>Flowers for Roisin:

SEND FLOWERS TO ROISIN FOR INTERNATIONAL WOMEN'S DAY. Flowers can be sent through any branch of Interflora to Rois!n McAliskey Flower Appeal, Caledonian Flower House Ltd, 430 Caledonian Rd, London N7 to arrive on Saturday 8 March.

*******

>>>>Action for Roisin:

PUBLIC MEETING: Release Roisin McAliskey. 8pm Thursday 6 March, Connolly Hall, Lapps Quay, CORK. Speaker: Oliver Kearney. Organised by the Irish Freedom Campaign

PUBLIC MEETING: On the current situation for POWs in British prisons. 7pm Friday 7 March, Friends Meeting House, Eustace Road, LONDON, England. Speakers: Bernadette McAliskey, Francis McHugh (sister of Belmarsh prisoner), Jenny Payne (Fuascailt) and Gareth Pierce (solicitor). Organised by Fuascailt

GRAND CEILI: International Women's Day Ceili. 5.30pm onwards Friday 7 March, McNamara Hall, Camden Irish Centre, 52 Camden Square, LONDON, England

WHITE-LINE PICKET: In support of Roisin McAliskey. 1pm Saturday 8 March, the top of the New Lodge and Antrim Roads, BELFAST, County Antrim. Organised by North Belfast Sinn Fein.

WHITE-LINE PICKET: In support of Roisin McAliskey. 2pm Saturday 8 March, Daunt Square, Grand Parade, CORK. Organised by the Irish Freedom Campaign

PICKET: In support of Roisin McAliskey. 1-2pm Saturday 8 March, the Diamond, MONAGHAN TOWN, County Monaghan. All welcome. Organised by Monaghan Sinn Fein

PICKET: In support of Roisin McAliskey. 12.30-2pm Saturday 8 March, Monn's Corner, GALWAY. Organised by Sinn Fein.

WOMEN'S DAY RALLY: For the release of Roisin McAliskey. 2-4pm Saturday 8 March, outside Holloway Prison, LONDON, England. Organised by Fuascailt

VIGIL: In support of justice Roisin McAliskey. 1-6pm Saturday 1 March-Wednesday 12 March, GPO, O'Connell, DUBLIN

PICKET: Calling for the release of Roisin McAliskey. 4pm Friday 14 March, German Embassy, Portland Street, MANCHESTER, England. Followed by a torch-light vigil outside St Mary's Maternity Hospital, Hathersage Road. organised by the Roisin McAliskey Supoort Group and Irish Political Prisoner Support (Manchester). All welcome

NEW YORK:

Thursday March 6: First Annual International Non-Invitational, Non-Denominational Informer's Festival (to coincide with the eagerly awaited Tralee Tout Tour of the Self-professed Murderer, Pernicious Prehistoric Persifleur, Prevaricator, Alleged Recalcitrant Regicidal Wanker ... Sean O'Callaghan, direct from his '500 + Year' prison term & 'not for profit' position as Top Tout (latest No 1 Expert on the IRA, Sinn Fein and Irish Mafia). Join us down at Rocky's for a special screening of John Ford's Academy-award winning classic film "The Informer", Followed by an evening of Tall Tales of Treachery, Perfidy, Terror & Redemption. Unlike O'Callaghan, our story tellers will be spinning their tales for monetary gain, prizes etc...

Rocky Sullivan's 29th and Lexington Avenue (All proceeds to go to the Roisin McAliskey defense fund)

On International Women's Day Saturday March 8 , come out and demonstrate for Roisin McAliskey, the 25-year old daughter of Irish civil rights leader and former MP, Bernadette Devlin McAliskey. Roisin, seven months pregnant, is locked up in solitary confinement in a British prison 23 hours a day, and denied bail. The conditions of her detention are exacerbating her health problems. She is strip-searched every eight hours. She is not receiving proper pre-natal care, and has gained no weight in the last month. Roisin will give birth while shackled to a bed and handcuffed to a prison guard. Protest these human rights abuses and call for bail for Roisin as she awaits charges and extradition to Germany. Protest the British government's appalling lack of respect for its obligations under international law and the German government's complicity. The rally is tentatively scheduled to begin in front of Lufthansa German National Airlines at 680 Fifth Ave. in New York City, followed by a march to the British Consulate for speeches, and ending with a fundraiser for Roisin's defense fund at Rocky Sullivan's Pub. International Woman's Day Protest Against Denial of Bail For Roisin McAliskey Saturday March 8 1 to 3pm

Key Speaker: Dierdre McAliskey, sister of Roisin Final location to be annnounced (Lufthansa Airline ? British Airways ? - depends on which way the bail question settles)

Also: Mary Pike, attorney for Irish POW Joe Doherty during his nine year struggle against extradition back to Long Kesh prison.

Fionnula Flanagan [of Some Mother's Son] would like to announce: A Mock Baby Shower for Roisin and baby, Saturday April 5th To be held simultaneously on both coasts - in New York and Los Angeles human rights advocates, women's groups, men's groups, politicians, and all those interested are invited to come together and bring gifts. Real gifts will be donated to real babies in women's prison furlough programs. Symbolic gifts (letters, money for Roisin's defense fund, etc.) also accepted. We urge those in other cities both here and abroad to participate by holding their own showers on the same day. For more information contact: The Friends of Roisin Baby Shower Committee 523 5th St. #3R Brooklyn, N.Y. 11215 718-768-1722

Meetings of the Friends of Roisin Committee are held every Friday at Rocky Sullivan's 29th and Lexington Avenue 6:15 pm - Womens' Subcommittee Meeting 7:00 pm - General Meeting

Friends of Roisin McAliskey c/o O'Dwyer & Bernstien 52 Duane Street New York, NY 10007 Phone (718) 436-4770 Contact person: Sandy Boyer http://www.dorsai.org/~wbai/rfe/roisin.html#roisin http://www.dorsai.org/~wbai/rfe/sos.html

WASHINGTON DC

Demonstrations to be held in support of Roisin McAliskey Saturday March 8 - International Women's Day 12pm 2pm German Embassy 4645 Resevoir Road, NW Washington, DC (in Georgetown near Foxhall Road)

2pm-4pm British Embassy 3100 Massachusetts Avenue, NW Washington, DC

EVERYWHERE

* The Roisin McAliskey Justice Group has called on people to write and fax to Dick Spring TD, Tanaiste, Iveagh House, 80 St Stephen's Green, Dublin 2 Fax +353-1-478-2708 demanding his immediate public intervention with the British and German authorities on Roisin McAliskey's behalf.

* Write and fax also to Horst Pakowski, Ambassador of the Federal Republic of Germany, 31 Trimleston Avenue, Booterstown, Blackrock, County Dublin, Ireland Fax +353-1-269-3946, demanding that his government stop opposing bail.

Or contact your local German or British consulate or embassy:

Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany 4645 Reservoir Road, N.W. Washington, D.C. 20007 Telephone: +1-202-298-4000 Fax: +1-202-298-4249

NY, USA Phone: +1-212-308-8700 Chicago, USA Phone: +1-312-580-1199, Fax +1-312-580-0099 LA, USA Phone: +1-213-930-2703 London, England Phone: +44-171-824-1435

British Embassy 3100 Massachusetts Ave, NW Washington, DC 20008 Tel: (202) 588-6500 Fax: (202) 588-7870

British Consulates:

Atlanta, GA: Tel: (404) 524-8823 Fax: (404) 524-3153 Boston, MA: Tel: (617) 248-9555 Fax: (617) 248-9578 Chicago, IL Tel: (312) 346-1810 Fax: (312) 464-0661 Cleveland, OH Tel: (216) 621-7675 Fax: (216) 621-2615 Dallas, TX Tel: (214) 521-4090 Fax: (214) 521-4807 Houston, TX Tel: (713) 659-6270 Fax: (713) 659-7094 Los Angeles, CA Tel: (310) 477-3322 Fax: (310) 575-1450 Miami, FL Tel: (305) 374-1522 Fax: (305) 374-8196 New York, NY Tel: (212) 745-0200 Fax: (212 754-3062 Orlando, FL Tel: (407) 426-7855 Fax: (407) 426-9343 San Francisco, CA Tel: (415) 981-3030 Fax: (415) 434-2018 Seattle, WA Tel: (206) 622-9255 Fax: (206) 622-4728

*******

>>>>Write to Roisin ' Roisin McAliskey can be written to at the following address: TE 2456 HMP Holloway Parkhurst Road, Holloway, London, England N70NY

*******

>>>>More about Roisin

Several web sites for Roisin's campaign has been set up. Try: http://larkspirit.com/roisin/

----------------------------------------------- >From RM_Distribution, a daily Irish Republican news and information service. http://irlnet.com/rmlist/

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