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'Deafening silence from Irish government on prisoner release call' - McGarry

August 3, 1998 12:00 AM

The President of the Alliance Party, Dr. Philip McGarry has called on the Irish Government to confirm its commitment to releasing - by the year 2000 - paramilitary prisoners convicted of the murders of members of the Garda.

Dr. McGarry said that failure to do so would be an act of "bad faith", which would indicate an unwillingness to support fully the Good Friday Agreement.

The Alliance President said: "Last week the Irish Government ordered the release of a member of the IRA who had been convicted of attempting to murder a policeman in England in 1992," said Dr. McGarry.

"This decision, naturally enough, has caused distress to the relatives of the murdered police officer and illustrates clearly the sensitive nature of the early release of prisoners."

"Last Friday I called upon the Irish Government to confirm that those who had murdered members of the Garda would be released, as set out in the Good Friday Agreement, by June 2000. My call has been met with a deafening silence."

"I felt that it was important to do this in view of the fact that the Garda Representatives Association assertion that those convicted of the murder of Garda Hand in 1984 should not be released. This comes after the widespread speculation that if people are convicted of the 1996 murder of Gerry McCabe in Limerick they will not be released."

"This would clearly be an intolerable act of bad faith by the Irish government and would be an unacceptable breach of the Good Friday Agreement which has been endorsed overwhelmingly by the people of Ireland. The only inference that could be drawn from the failure to release such prisoners is that the Irish government is not committed to equality of treatment and fairness for all."

"I repeat my call to the Minister for Justice to make it crystal clear that those who have been convicted of the murders of members of the Garda on behalf of the IRA will all be released by June 2OOO," added the Alliance Party President.

ENDS.

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