(en) Ireland - Human rights news

Struggle in Ireland (irl_strug@geocities.com)
Tue, 06 May 1997 13:17:07 +0000


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PFC News Update Updates on Ireland from Derry's Pat Finucane Centre Sunday 4 May 1997

***** Election Aftermath ***** The devastating defeat of the British Conservative and Unionist Party (it's full name) in Thursday's election has given rise to fresh hopes on this side of the Irish sea that life may yet be breathed into a moribund peace process.

The political landscape has been transformed. Ulster Unionists have lost their stranglehold on Government decisions. Paisley's Democratic Unionist Party will enter Westminster without the gospel singing right-wing fundamentalist preacher Willie McCrea who has close links to loyalist paramilitaries and lost his Mid Ulster seat to Sinn Fein's Martin McGuinness. That result together with the election of Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams in West Belfast should in theory make it easier for the new Labour Government to open up contacts with the Republican Movement. Sinn Fein after all now boast two Members of Parliament though both have pledged not to actually enter the chamber or take the oath of allegiance to the Queen of England.

The new Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Dr Mo. Mowlam, the first woman to occupy the position, visited Belfast yesterday while an Irish News editorial bade farewell to the previous occupant of the post 'Sir' Patrick Mayhew. The editorial was entitled "Goodbye and Good Riddance."

The Pat Finucane Centre has written to the new Secretary of State urging "respect for human rights as a foundation in the building of any new peace process." We would argue that a number of measures should be undertaken immediately by the new British Government which would build confidence and help create a climate where human rights would begin to be respected. Those measures include:

* repeal of Emergency legislation * banning of plastic bullets * closure of the Special Secure Units in British prisons * closure of Castlereagh and Gough interrogation centres * repatriation of prisoners * an independent international inquiry into Bloody Sunday * the release of Roisin McAlliskey * equality of treatment in the parades issue * a fundamental review of all aspects of policing * publication of the Steven's inquiry into collusion * an urgent inquiry into miscarriages of justice

Should the new British Government address these issues a resolution of the conflict would be undoubtedly closer. They should not be offered in response to or as a quid pro quo for an IRA ceasefire. Respect for human rights is the fundamental duty and responsibility of a state not a bargaining package to be discussed at negotiations. At the same time it must be said that the single greatest contribution that the IRA could make to confidence building and the creation of a human rights culture would be the declaration of a ceasefire.

***** Roisin McAlliskey ***** Today's edition of the Sunday Business Post carries a major article titled "No case to answer - Federal Republic of Germany Vs Roisin McAlliskey" by the British journalist and television producer Lin Solomon. The piece exposes three of the crucial weaknesses in the German warrant which seeks the extradition of Roisin in connection with the IRA mortar bombing of a British Army Barracks in Osnabruck on June 28 1996.

1. The alleged key witness, Manfred Schmidt, owner of the holiday cottage which it is claimed was rented out to the IRA unit, has "unambiguously asserted that he had never identified her (Roisin) as the woman 'Beth'." 2. The warrant claims that fingerprints, allegedly Roisin's, were found in the holiday cottage. The German authorities now claim however that the fingerprints were actually found some 60 miles away at the actual site of the IRA attack in Osnabruck. 3. The warrant further states that at least some of the IRA unit returned to Ireland in a white Rover car aboard the Roscoff-Cork ferry arriving on July 1 1996. Problematic! As Lin Solomon points out, "a check with the ferry company ....reveals that there was no ferry which made the Roscoff-Cork crossing on the June 30. There was no ferry which could have arrived at Cork from Roscoff on July 1."

The Sunday Business Post article then touches on a lesser known aspect of the case. Roisin was not arrested in connection with the Osnabruck bombing. For the first days of her interrogation there was no mention of Germany. She was in fact questioned about events in the North in the preceding weeks. Referring to this period Roisin says that "something should be done about what goes on in Castlereagh." The interrogators made abusive remarks about her mother Bernadette, the loyalist gun attack on her parents in 1981 and republican women in particular.

Roisin is innocent until proven guilty. But she has been named, photographed, interrogated and imprisoned for four and a half months. Serious allegations have been made about her interrogation . The Pat Finucane Centre has been supplied the names of some of those involved in the interrogation by someone close to Roisin. We also accept that they are innocent until proven guilty. But the allegations against those persons should also be public knowledge. It should be remembered that a pregnant woman was being interrogated.

Some of those who supervised or were involved the interrogation were:

* Detective Superintendent Derek Martindale * Detective Inspector Christie * Detective Inspector Wright * Detective Constable McRoberts * Woman Detective Constable Douris

It is alleged that Det. Sup. Christie entered the interrogation room at one point, kicked a chair to the ground and then threw it at the wall behind Roisin. He then leant into her face and made abusive remarks. Christie is then said to have warned Det. Con. McRoberts "don't lose this one" in a reference to another female detainee who had been released following medical problems.

The woman Detective Constable, Douris, is said to have told Roisin that the problem with the cease-fires and the release of prisoners was that "republicans are breeding like rats, breeding like shit". The same RUC officer is alleged to have told Roisin which parts of her body were most vulnerable to blows which would induce a miscarriage without any evidence showing afterwards.

Roisin was not in fact physically assaulted at any time though one officer ran his fingers through her hair and blew in her ear while standing behind her. This would constitute sexual harassment. Douris is also alleged to have painted graphic details of the haemorrhage suffered by the above mentioned female detainee from Belfast. Vivid descriptions are said to have been given of the blood "running down her legs".

McRoberts also allegedly told Roisin on the fourth or fifth day that Detective Superintendent Derek Martindale, the head of RUC Special Branch, had gone "on a wee holiday" and would be bringing back "a package deal". It is thought that Martindale travelled to Germany at this time knowing that the German authorities wanted a woman suspect in the Osnabruck case and hoping to put Roisin 'in the frame'. The German interest in Roisin in other words was aroused by the RUC Special Branch having failed to pin anything else on the daughter of that "republican bitch".

Over a period of almost seven days and nights Roisin was subjected to extreme psychological abuse, humiliation and degradation. The allegation is that those named above were either directly involved or had knowledge of it and refused to intervene. She was verbally raped by men and women who presumably attend church, are members of their local golf club, upstanding members of their community and are called 'daddy' or 'mummy' when they return home after another day at Castlereagh interrogation centre.

The man appointed by the British Government to oversee conditions in the interrogation centres, Louis Blom Cooper QC, recently found that "complaints continue to be received alleging psychological abuse, personal threats and threats concerning the detainee's relatives. Not infrequently, detainees have complained of the demeaning, degrading and insulting remarks made about them, their spouses, partners or relatives." The irony is that those involved in abusive and degrading interrogation techniques are abusing and degrading their own humanity in the long run. Can they really look their own children in the face?

***** Loyalist Prison Protest Ends ***** Rooftop protests by loyalist prisoners at Long Kesh prison ended this week following negotiations between political representatives of the prisoners from the fringe loyalist parties and the Northern Ireland Office. Loyalists had objected to new security measures introduced following the discovery of an IRA escape tunnel. The new measures had included twice daily lockup to allow for a head count to be carried out in the cells but in a compromise proposal the prison authorities have now agreed to carry out the head count in the dining area.

During the protests loyalist prisoners set fire to observation towers and took control of two H-Blocks while supporters outside the main gate assaulted family members of Republican prisoners in an incident witnessed by the RUC who didn't intervene.

On Thursday Belfast was paralysed by a number of bomb scares thought to have been carried out by loyalist paramilitaries in support of the prison protest.

***** Bellaghy Parade ***** Residents of the mainly nationalist County Derry village of Bellaghy have protested at the saturation of the area since 7 am this morning by the RUC in a major security operation in advance of a parade through part of the village this afternoon (Sunday) by one of the Loyal Orders, the Royal Black Preceptory (RBP).

The RBP, whose membership is restricted to those who are already members of the Orange Order, had ignored three letters from the local residents group requesting meetings to discuss parades in the village. Despite this, residents are willing to allow the RBP a parade to the local Orange Hall. The parade has been re-routed by the RUC from a contentious part of the proposed route. Last year an 18 hour stand off between residents and the RUC led to the re-routing of another RBP parade in Bellaghy. As we go on-line there are some 70 RUC landrovers in the town. A further update will be provided later today along with a report on the hunger strike commemoration march taking place in West Belfast 7 pm.

The Bellaghy parade passed off peacefully while several thousand attended the Belfast march which was addressed by Gerry Adams MP and Martin McGuinness MP. No incidents were reported.

***** Dunloy Uncertainty ***** The Apprentice Boys of Derry, another of the Loyal Orders within the Orange tradition, has filed for a parade in the nationalist village of Dunloy ,Co. Antrim, on May 18.

The Dunloy Parents and Residents Group remain unsure of whether the RUC will attempt to force the parade through the village or not. Recent attempts by the local group to reach accommodation with the Orange Order were rejected by the hard line Spirit of Drumcree pressure group. Last August over 2000 Apprentice Boys, many of them drunk, tried to enter the village following the annual Apprentice Boys parade in Derry. Residents were terrified by the experience which saw the isolated nationalist enclave surrounded for several hours by a mob. (See previous updates)

***** Plastic Bullet Victim ***** The parents of a 13 year old Lurgan boy shot in the face by a British soldier last weekend have called for the soldier to be prosecuted. (see last week's update) It is still uncertain whether the boy who was plastic bulleted as he collected wood for a bonfire will lose the sight of one eye as a result of the incident.

The centers web page is at http://www.serve.com/pfc/ the text below is from this

What is the PFC

The Pat Finucane Centre is based in Derry, Ireland. The Centre advocates human rights and encourages political development and social change in Ireland. The centre promotes a nonviolent ethos and actively works to build alliances with groups and individuals within the radical and progressive wings of Irish politics. The centre believes that the attainment of human, political cultural and economic rights can only be achieved within the context of active self determination involving all the Irish people.

The Name of the PFC

The PFC is named in memory of Pat Finucane, a human rights lawyer from Belfast who was murdered in front of his wife and children on 12 February 1989 by the pro-British UDA. Pat had successfully challenged the British Government over several important human rights cases. One of those involved in his murder, Brian Nelson, was working for British Military Intelligence

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