McAliskey's mother to sue over detention

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The Independent Online
ANGRY, defiant and sometimes aggressive, Bernadette McAliskey yesterday said she was preparing to take legal action against both the British Government and the RUC for the way she said her daughter had been physically and emotionally broken.

Mrs McAliskey said someone had to be brought to account for the way Roisin had been treated during seven days she was held at the Castlereagh detention centre. She called on Northern Ireland Secretary Mo Mowlam to immediately launch an inquiry. "If the British Government had any intention of building up the confidence of people in Northern Ireland they would shut down Castlereagh holding centre," she said.

At a press conference called in the wake of the announcement that Ms McAliskey will not be extradited to Germany, her mother said she believed her daughter would never make a full recovery.

Mrs McAliskey, who visited her daughter yesterday morning at the Bethlem Hospital's mother and baby unit in Kent, claimed the post-traumatic stress disorder her daughter was suffering was the direct result of the week she was held at Castlereagh after being arrested in November 1996.

"If Castlereagh was not a secret place I would be able to tell you what happened. But only Roisin really knows," she said. "We don't know - there was no record kept, there was no lawyer there. Whatever happened created a deep traumatic disorder in my daughter.

"Roisin is ill, and she is ill as a consequence of being arrested and detained in Castlereagh and being moved to Holloway and to Belmarsh and back to Holloway.

"When I last saw my daughter when she was free she was not like this and we will be looking very carefully at some sort of redress. She will have a limp forever and someone is responsible for that."

Mrs McAliskey also told today how interrogators of her daughter compounded her trauma by making her re-live her mother's shooting.

As an eight-year-old, Roisin watched as her mother was wounded in a loyalist attack. The former Republican MP for Mid Ulster said an RUC officer who was present at the shooting triggered the flashback while involved in her daughter's interrogation at Castlereagh.

Despite cataloguing her daughter's condition, Mrs McAliskey said when she had met her yesterday morning she had been "fine". She declined to answer further questions about her mental condition.

However Prof Sheila Kitzinger, the respected writer on childbirth and post-traumatic stress disorder, has twice spent time with her in the mother and baby unit.

"I hope she will make a full recovery, but it will take time and it will not be miraculous," she said. "Roisin is suffering from panic attacks and nightmares. She is fearful of people and is in a very shaky condition at the moment.

It is still unknown when Roisin will be leaving hospital. Mrs McAliskey said arrangements would be made at some point during the next few months to transfer her to a hospital nearer her home in Coalisland, Co Tyrone.