Minister in row over `IRA scum'

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A Home Office minister was under fire last night after linking a pregnant Irish woman with "IRA scum". Roisin McAliskey is facing extradition to Germany on suspicion of the mortar attack on Osnabruck barracks, but has not been convicted of any crime.

David Maclean, who is in charge of criminal policy, appeared to compare Ms McAliskey with Myra Hindley in a letter to a 79-year-old constituent who had raised the case with him. "When the day comes that the evil scum of the IRA are no longer murdering the innocent, and our children are no longer terrified by the Hindleys of this world, then I am certain that when I no longer need all my compassion for the innocent I shall be able to spare some for the perpetrators," he wrote.

The disclosure came on the day the Prison Service ruled Ms McAliskey could keep her baby, due in May, with her in Holloway Prison, London.

Mr Maclean, previously criticised for saying most London beggars were "aggressive Scots", attacked Judith Naylor, from Appleby, Cumbria, for raising the case and demanded to know why she did not show equal compassion for Stephen Restorick, a soldier shot dead by the IRA last month.

"You are worried that the IRA prisoner will be denied some fundamental human rights when giving birth. Where were the lobby groups and prison reformers worried about Stephen Restorick? You are campaigning for her to breast-feed her baby. Who is campaigning for the Stephen Restoricks of this world who will never bounce a baby on their knee ever again?"

Last night the Prison Service said Ms McAliskey would remain at Holloway while awaiting a decision on her extradition and would be able to keep her baby with her in the prison's mother-and-baby unit.